Ron Stallworth: In His Own Words
QUESTION: Why did you decided to write the book Black Klansman?
RON STALLWORTH: I wrote the book because back in 1978, I was the first black
detective in the history of the Colorado Springs Police Department-I was also
the youngest detective in the history of the department. I was sitting in my
office in the intelligence division, and one of the things we did was monitor
newspaper activity every day to see what was going on that might have an impact
on our city. On this particular day, I saw this ad that said 'Ku Klux Klan, for
information contact' and then there was a P.O. box. I basically sat down, wrote
a note to this P.O. box. I said, 'I'm a white, pure white American man with
Aryan blood and I hateā¦' you name the ethnicity, I threw it in there. I told
them that I wanted to join the Klan to do something about this. So, I made a
mistake, I signed my real name-don't ask me why other than I had a brain cramp
that day. I dropped this in the mail and forgot about it. Maybe two weeks later,
I got this phone call. The gentleman identified himself as the local chapter
president-he called himself the organizer- and said that he had gotten my letter
and I had some very interesting ideas and he wanted to follow up with me. That
launched the investigation.
QUESTION: What was the atmosphere in Colorado Springs in October of '78?
RON STALLWORTH: There was no racial activity going on in Colorado Springs,
nothing significant outside of any other community in the country. Colorado
Springs was and is a military town. There are four military installations. You
get a wide, diverse population group coming in and out of the town, and the fact
that this particular ad in the newspaper cropped up, it stuck out. There had
never been anything like that. Being a black man, I immediately seized on the
fact that this is unique, this is something that's worth exploring. But there
was nothing in the town itself that was triggering it.
QUESTION: What was the most exciting part of this case?
RON STALLWORTH: Making a fool of David Duke. That's probably the most
exhilarating because David Duke had a master's degree in political science from
Louisiana State University. He is one hell of a debater. He was billing himself
as the image of the new Klan, a newly resurgent, reorganized Klan who didn't go
around using the so-called N-word-a term that it hates, by the way. You can't
use any term to soften that word. He never went around in public using the
N-word. He said it in private a lot, but not in public. That was part of his
image reconstruction. He didn't wear his Klan robes in public, that was part of
his image reconstruction. And he marketed the Klan, best way to describe it, he
marketed the Klan that he was involved in much like Donald Trump brands his
name. So, he was not a dumb individual, but the fact that he and I were
interacting with each other over the phone, I, at the time, only had a high
school diploma, and I'm going up against this guy with a master's degree. It was
a battle of wits over the phone, and quite frankly I outwitted him. I got a lot
of thrill out of that. I still do.
QUESTION: What were your thoughts on Topher's portrayal of David Duke?
RON STALLWORTH: It's an eerie feeling listening to Topher on the big screen
because he has the uncanny knack of being able to sound like David Duke. He
sounded like the David Duke that I dealt with in 1978. Even the makeup made him
look very similar to the David Duke of that time period.
QUESTION: Did you have to practice voices with the detective who pretended to
be you in person?
RON STALLWORTH: There was no attempt to disguise my voice. You have to
understand, one of the dynamics of undercover work is you keep as true to your
true self, your personality, as possible. The reason being, when you're dealing
with somebody in an undercover capacity, they could trip you up if you're
assuming an identity that's too far removed from who you actually are. So, when
you're undercover, you go about doing what you do in the normal way. People who
say-as I was told in the beginning-you can't pull this investigation off because
they'll immediately recognize the difference in a black man's voice versus a
white man, my response to them was, What does a black man sound like? How am I
so distinctly different in my speech pattern, my voice inflection, from a white
man? That reality kinda slapped them in the face, and once they understood that
they couldn't justify that, we were able to move this investigation forward.
QUESTION: Did watching the film take you back a little?
RON STALLWORTH: I chuckled watching events that I had been involved in being
portrayed on the big screen. I remembered those moments vividly. I mean,
everything that happened is very vivid in my mind. It was a very surreal
experience to be sitting there and watching that chapter in my life unfold, to
hear my name spoken and to recognize that somebody thought that this was a story
worthy of being told-and to realize that it has become a political statement on
this country. All I did was plan on writing a book. I didn't plan on making a
big political statement about racial relations, Trump's America or anything like
that. Spike did a masterful job of connecting those dots.
QUESTION: Were you able to visit set during production?
RON STALLWORTH: Spike brought us to Brooklyn for the read-through, my wife
and I. John David had a lot of questions about character development, how I felt
here, how I felt there, what did I wear, how did I dress, did I know how to
dance, and was I a good dancer back in the disco days? I held my own. Spike told
everybody to put me on speed dial, and they had my number to contact me whenever
QUESTION: What was it like working with Spike?
RON STALLWORTH: I find him to be very honest and real. There's no pretense
about him. He says what's on his mind. He doesn't care what people think. As one
of the producers told me when Spike got a hold of the project, he said, 'It's
Spike's world, and we all live in it.' I'm appreciative of him seeing a value in
my story to wanna make it into a movie and I'm very pleased with the end result.
I mean, who can be upset by Spike Lee directing a story about your life?
Home | Theaters | Video | TV
Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
© 2019 34®, All Rights Reserved.