Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) is a film about the circumstances surrounding the civil rights movement, forming the Rainbow Coalition, and, most importantly, a pivotal perspective highlighting the impact of Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers in Chicago. It also details people and events connected to the uplifting of the black community in the Chicago in the late 1960s, the beginning of a downward spiral of historical events, and the betrayal and assassination of Fred Hampton and his close associates.
In the late 1960s, the black community was looking for more young leaders to aid with education, housing, unemployment, and hunger after the assassinations of Black leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Fred Hampton quickly became influenced by the NAACP and Black Panther Party initiatives as a teen. At the age of 21, Fred was appointed the Black Panther Party leader in Illinois and rose to become one of the most well-known and influential revolutionary socialists of his time.
The film is appropriately named Judas and the Black Messiah because of the parallels the relationship between Judas Iscariot and Jesus of Nazareth. Fred Hampton selects William O’Neal to be head of Black Panther Chapter security. There was a meal prepared by O’Neal, which is to be Fred Hampton’s “Last Supper.”
Before the night of the Black Panther assassinations (Dec 3, 1969), Fred Hampton communes at the table with his nine-month pregnant girlfriend Deborah Johnson, William O’ Neal, and other Black Panthers. O’Neal became an informant/turncoat after extreme coercion by Chicago police and FBI agent Roy Mitchell. It was the goal of the FBI, Chicago Police, and the “Chicago Political Machine” to disassemble the Black Panther Party and affiliated organizations by tearing down community leaders and causing rifts between organizations. It was alleged that former director of FBI, J. Edgar Hoover targeted the Chicago Black Panthers Illinois Chapter specifically during this time because Fred Hampton would be next in line for Party Chief of Staff. Hoover maintained that the Panthers and Rainbow Coalition were a threat to national security (formed the COINTELPRO).
This trailer shows promise and determination by its riveting, fast-paced tone. The casting for this film seems appropriate and legitimate in selection. It is understandable why the producing team consisting of Charles D. King, Ryan Coogler, and Shaka King chose to focus on the betrayal of Fred Hampton, police brutality, and the continuous plight of the black community. It will be interesting to see how the story will develop and exactly what research was done for what seems to be an emotionally jarring ride. This piece’s timing will be forever relevant but also appears to be a similar derivative of Melvin Van Peebles’ screenplay of “Panther”(1995).
Some notable actors:
- Daniel Kaluuya plays Fred Hampton.
- Lakeith Stanfield plays William O’Neal.
- Dominque Fishback plays Deborah Johnson. Jesse Plemons plays Roy Mitchell.
- Ashton Sanders plays Larry Roberson.
- Algee Smith plays Jake Winters.
- Martin Sheen plays J. Edgar Hoover
- Lil Rel Howery plays Brian
- Jermaine Fowler plays Mark Clark
- Darrell Britt-Gibson plays Bobby Rush.