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Editor's note: Have you ever wondered if the movie you just saw — that claimed to be based on a real story or historical events — was really accurate? So have we. Everyone from Cannes to Twitter seems to be talking about BlacKkKlansman, so we wanted to help you sort out the facts from the dramatic liberties. (We've also fact-checked The Post, Darkest Hour and Dunkirk.) Warning, major spoilers and plot points ahead!)
"Dis joint is based on some fo’ real, fo’ real s---," the title card to BlacKkKlansman reads.
BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s latest film, tells the tale of a black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan between 1978 and 1979. The detective, Ron Stallworth, strikes up a phone friendship with the local chapter of the Klan and with David Duke himself to discover and thwart cross burnings and a bombing.
The movie is laced with expletives and explosives. But how much of it is based on real events?
It’s adapted from Stallworth’s memoir, which he published in 2014. The decorated 32-year law enforcement veteran wrote it using the investigation casebook he was ordered to destroy (but didn’t) by his sergeant in 1979.
Ron Stallworth, Black Klansman, memoir, 2014
Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman, movie, 2018
Various newspaper articles, Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph, April 1978-April 1979
Various newspaper articles, Colorado Springs Sun, June 1978-January 1979
Email interview with Vanessa Zink, spokeswoman at the City of Colorado Springs, Aug. 27, 2018
Email interview with Matt Mayberry, director of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Aug. 28, 2018
Email interviews with Caitlyn Nguyen and Elaine Patterson, Focus Features spokeswomen, Aug. 27-30, 2018
Phone interview with Deborah Bulkeley, former Deseret News reporter, Aug. 29, 2018
Phone interview with Nancy Johnson, former Colorado Springs Sun reporter, Aug. 29, 2018
Okay Player, Ron Stallworth Isn't Just The Real 'BlacKkKlansman,' He's "Hip-Hop's First Cop" Too, August 2018
Deseret News, Black sergeant was 'loyal Klansman', Jan. 12, 2006