Ron Stallworth, who joined the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s while working as an undercover police officer in Colorado Springs, made a triumphant return to Salt Lake Community College to share the true story behind Spike Lee’s Academy Award-winning film “BlacKkKlansman.”
The Student Life and Leadership’s Central Region Board, along with the Black Student Union, hosted Stallworth and his wife, Patsy, for the Feb. 26 lecture held at the Grand Theatre.
During his lecture, Stallworth, a former SLCC instructor and retired Utah Department of Public Safety officer, emphasized on stage that terms meant to belittle black men all had the same intention.
“If you call me a boy, it is a polite way of calling me a nigger,” he said, unapologetically. “It is demeaning and disgusting.”
Many were stunned by Stallworth’s overt bluntness and explicit language, especially in regard to the N-word. But that, he said, is necessary to move forward.
From the stage, Stallworth showed his KKK membership card signed by David Duke to the audience. Later on in his speech, Stallworth likened Duke, the Grand Wizard of the KKK, to President Donald Trump.
“David Duke likes to be fawned over, like Donald Trump,” he said.
Saiman Sadiq, a health sciences major and pre-medical student, says he didn’t agree with everything Stallworth said.
“It was rude when he called out Donald Trump and accused him to being part of the KKK,” Saiman says. “But, he does have more experience with the Ku Klux Klan and can target certain behaviors.”
Ron Stallworth was an instructor at SLCC for many years and taught at the Miller Campus. He also established the Metro Gang Unit in Salt Lake City after he left Colorado Springs.
Students, faculty, staff and the public nearly filled the theatre to see Stallworth, who had been in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards just two nights before. He stood on stage beside “BlacKkKlansman” director Spike Lee as he accepted the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Members of Student Life and Leadership, the Black Student Union and other sponsors joined Stallworth on stage at the end of his speech to present him with the Revolutionary Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sharifa Harrigan, President of the Black Student Union, explains the award represents his actions and contributions to the Black Community for the Civil Rights and Social Justice.
Then, in a homage to the slogan on the Black Panthers, Stallworth invited the crowd to stand up, raise their right hand and shout, “All power to the people.”
Students and campus leaders spent the day with the Stallworths prior to his evening lecture, and some students were able to hold Stallworth’s KKK membership card and read the fine print on the back.
Brittany VanValkenburg from Student Life and Leadership was grateful that Stallworth could make time to speak to the SLCC community.