Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, Algee Smith, Lil Rel Howery, Martin Sheen
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Bio-drama directed and co-written by Shaka King. Inspired by the true story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and his fateful betrayal by FBI informant William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield).
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Our Favorite Quotes:'Words are beautiful, but action is supreme.' - Fred Hampton (Judas and the Black Messiah) Click To Tweet 'Anywhere there's people, there's power.' - Fred Hampton (Judas and the Black Messiah) Click To Tweet 'We educate. We nurture. We feed, and we lobby. Perhaps we're here for more than just war with these bodies.' - Deborah Johnson (Judas and the Black Messiah) Click To Tweet
Interviewer: [1989, Bill is being interviewed for a documentary] Looking back on your activities in the late ’60s, early ’70s, what would you tell your son about what you did then?
J. Edgar Hoover: The Black Panthers are the single greatest threat to our national security. More than the Chinese. Even more than the Russians. Our counter-intelligence program must prevent the rise of a Black Messiah from among their midst. One with a potential to unite the Communist, the anti-war, and the New Left movements.
Fred Hampton: We don’t fight fire with fire. We fight fire with water.
Roy Mitchell: Special Agent Mitchell, FBI. Almost as spiffy as yours. Now, tell me, why the badge? Why not just use a knife, or a gun like a normal car thief?
Bill O’Neal: A badge is scarier than a gun.
Roy Mitchell: Would you mind explaining that for me?
Bill O’Neal: Any n**** on the streets can get a gun, sir. A badge is like you got the whole damn army behind you.
Roy Mitchell: I better hold on to this then.
Roy Mitchell: [to Bill] You’re looking at eighteen months for the stolen car, and five years for impersonating a federal officer. Or you can go home.
Fred Hampton: There’s a man called a capitalist. Don’t matter what color he is, black, white, brown, red, don’t matter. Because the capitalist has one goal. And that is to exploit the people. He can have on a three-piece suit, or a dashiki, because political power doesn’t flow from the sleeve of a dashiki. Political power flows from the barrel of a gun. We in the Black Panther Party don’t believe in no culture except revolutionary culture. What we mean by that is a culture that will free you!
Deborah Johnson: Do you like poetry?
Fred Hampton: I mean, it’s cool, but as Che Guevara said, “Words are beautiful, but action is supreme,” you dig?
Deborah Johnson: I dig. Right on. But you were up on that stage using words. So maybe next time, choose them a bit more carefully, instead of tearing down the folk who you call yourself recruiting, just because they demonstrate a little Black pride. But just so you know, you are a poet.
Fred Hampton: But we in the party ascribe to Chairman Mao’s definition of politics. He said, “War is politics with bloodshed, and politics is war without bloodshed.”
Fred Hampton: There’s strength in numbers. Power anywhere there’s people.
Fred Hampton: Information is raw material for new ideas.
Fred Hampton: Because we’ve grown so accustomed to being poor, we think it’s normal for our kids to go to school hungry. We think it’s normal for us to go to the hospital with a runny nose, and come home in a body bag. So our job as the Black Panther Party is to heighten the contradictions.
Fred Hampton: The poet. What a pleasant surprise.
Deborah Johnson: I saw your ad in the paper looking for a new speechwriter. I figured I’d better come lend a hand.
Fred Hampton: Well, that must have been a misprint. See, I don’t write speeches, sister. I just get up on stage and speak truth to the people.
Deborah Johnson: Oh, it shows. The lack of preparation, that is.
Fred Hampton: It got you here.
Bill O’Neal: You ain’t tell me it was going to be like this. These m*therf***ers ain’t no terrorists. S**t, they terrorizing me.
Roy Mitchell: What can I do to help? The goal is to get close to Hampton. So, think. What does he need that maybe your Uncle Sam might be able to help you provide?
Bill O’Neal: A car.
Fred Hampton: The Black Panther Party believes in progression. Now, what that mean? That mean, first, you have free breakfast. Then you have free healthcare. Then you have free education. Next thing you know, you look up, you done freed your m*therf***ing self!
Interviewer: What made you think you could trust Roy Mitchell?
Bill O’Neal: I’d rode around in his car. I had dinner with him at his dinner table. You know, he was, at one point, for me, he was like a role model. When I didn’t have one, you know? We had very few role models back then. We had Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali. I had an FBI agent.
Roy Mitchell: Their aim is to sow hatred and inspire terror. Plain and simple. Now, I’m all for civil rights, but you can’t cheat your way to equality. And you certainly can’t shoot your way to it.
Bill O’Neal: Say, I get you like some good information. Something nobody else knows. Is there some kind of bonus or something?
Roy Mitchell: Well, I’m counting on it, Bill. But, to answer your question. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
Fred Hampton: Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois Black Panther Party.
Steel: The pigs don’t write, blood.
Fred Hampton: The Feds do. They pulled the same s**t on Martin and Malcolm.
Steel: And what happened to them?
Fred Hampton: Same s**t that’s going to happen to all of us. At least they died for the people. We should be so lucky.
Deborah Johnson: [referring to Malcolm X] I listen to him every morning. I feel like he never lets folks put words in his mouth. And no matter what, he doesn’t get flustered or angry. I’d like to be like that someday.
Fred Hampton: What?
Deborah Johnson: I did not expect you to be shy.
Fred Hampton: Oh, I’m not shy.
Fesperman: Look, we oppressed your people for a long time.
James: I didn’t oppress s**t. And my folks grew up poor. They were sharecroppers.
Jimmy Palmer: AKA the overseer.
Fred Hampton: What if the overseer had banded with the slaves and cut the master’s throat? What then, comrade? We might not be in this funky-a** ghetto right now. I’m not talking about the West Side, or the South Side. I’m talking this filthy-a** m*therf***er right here. S**t. We almost got into it with a rat over a parking space.
Fred Hampton: Let me ask y’all something. If this building caught fire right now, what would y’all worry about? Water and escape. If somebody were to ask you, “What’s your culture during this fire, brother?” “Water, that’s my culture.” “Well, how about your politics?” “Water and escape.” Well, guess what, America is on fire right now. And until that fire is extinguished, don’t nothing else mean a goddamn thing.
Bill O’Neal: [referring to Fred] He could sell salt to a slug.
Fred Hampton: The Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and the Young Patriots, are forming a Rainbow Coalition of oppressed brothers and sisters of every color!
J. Edgar Hoover: [referring to Fred] I want him off the street. Charge him with something! Anything.
Interviewer: What was he arrested for?
Bill O’Neal: Ice cream. Yeah, he was accused of taking seventy something dollars worth of ice cream. And I think he got two to five for that, if I’m not mistaken.
Interviewer: And how did Fred going to prison affect the party?
Bill O’Neal: How didn’t it?
Man: Hey, we got a rat, man.
Bill O’Neal: What?
Man: They smoked one out.
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