A chronicle of Fred Hampton and the life altering betrayal of William O’Neal, is the subject of the eagerly awaited film, Judas and the Black Messiah, from director Shaka King, who also wrote the screenplay, with writers Will Berson, Keith Lucas, and Kenneth Lucas, starring Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton, LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neil, Martin Sheen as J.Edgar Hoover, and Jesse Piemons as Roy Mitchell. The Black Panther Party, and its leaders were targets of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, who used his position as head of the FBI to put action behind his intense hatred for Black leaders, not just Fred Hampton but also, Martin Luther King Jr., and pretty much any Black person with a voice standing up for equality. Hoover exercised his power to exploit, divide and conquer Black organizations by infiltrating groups with Hoover employed undercover “activists,” like William O’Neal. “Hoover Hatred” is being rehabilitated at the FBI, perhaps next the “Hoover” building name will evolve as well to reflect the organization’s progress. Hoover’s practice of going after people he held personal grudges against, enforcing intrusive surveillance measures, blackmailing those who challenged him, and destroying careers has been condemned, although apparently not by the current occupant of the White House. I wonder what groups, or people are being infiltrated by bearers of betrayal right now. Infighting and infiltration, will only render powerful groups powerless. We must keep our eyes on the prize, and each other. Black people don’t have to agree with one another on all things all the time, we can allow each other that space without sacrificing our collective progress.
Peeling people apart from within is a practice aimed at pitting out the energy of progression. Among all the things we are looking forward to in 2021, Judas and the Black Messiah, is a film definitely on the list, let’s just hope it’s not on anyone’s “subversives” list.