"Judas and the Black Messiah" portrays tragic historical events and …

Judas and the Black Messiah

"Judas and the Black Messiah" portrays tragic historical events and …

Director Shaka King released one of the most important films of 2021 about the 1969 murder of the Black Panther Party of Illinois Chairman Fred Hampton.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” portrays tragic historical events and accurate picture of Black Panther Party – The Underground


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February 12, 2021

Penn State News By Penn State Students

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By Ariel Simpson on February 6, 2021By Ian Schauble on January 20, 2021By Ariel Simpson on December 29, 2020Advertisement

PoliticsBy Ian SchaubleThe 46th president of the United States was Inaugurated Today 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, was sworn in today January 20, 2021…

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” tells a story about FBI informant William O’Neal’s (LaKeith Stanfield) betrayal of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party in 1969. This monumental film features heart wrenching real world experiences that continue in the present day premieres in theaters and on streaming services like HBO Max on Feb. 12. 

Trailer courtesy of Warner Bros.

Stanfield and Kaluuya deliver nuanced performances of their historical characters that take the viewer on a journey through the black community’s, especially the Black Panther Party’s, brutal relationship with law enforcement. The story is painful but necessary to tell when so many need to understand why anti racism is of utmost importance. 


Deborah Johnson, now known as Akua Njeri (Dominique Fishback), shines a light on black women’s struggle through the battle for equity. Johnson demonstrates humanity, like finding a romantic connection to Chairman Fred Hampton, at play during the most challenging times in life. Fishback performs with raw emotion and authenticity that exposes the viewer to relatable and real life situations for women like Johnson. 

(L-r) Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) spends one of his few moments with Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback) in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Fishback stated that women are and always have been revolutionary and radical. “And I just want to make sure that I bring awareness to the fact that a lot of times in this genre when it comes to love for black women, black women, are overlooked, and aren’t shown as worthy of love until we ride out with a man through jail or pregnancy. Only then are we committed, and I wanted to make sure that that wasn’t the narrative [and]  that we know that he loves her for her mind and her being,” Fishback said. 

Women are prominent leaders of the Black Panther Party in the film. Judy Harmon (Dominique Thorne) exemplifies this leadership when she acts as part of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party’s security team. She directs the party members to shoot and cover when protecting the chapter from law enforcement officials seeking to destroy the chapter’s brick and mortar outpost. 


Thorne spoke to what it was like to portray Harmon when she said she made as much space as possible to demonstrate Harmon’s truth and the “valor or courage” she needed to protect what she believes in. “I think, each person, each person involved understood how important getting the truth of what the Black Panther Party actually stood for and what they were actually doing, which [was] helping the communities starting clinics, trying to educate their people, [and]  making sure that those are the things that shine through, the humanity shines through,” Thorne said. 

Each character in the film held an equally important role because the Black Panther Party was a strong, dedicated unit that mended communities when no one else would. History classes in high schools did not always teach this (especially mine, as the author of this article) and often fed students lies about who the Black Panther Party members were. 

William O’Neal struggled with who he aligned with because complicit individuals in systemic racism seek to and often succeed in dividing people from their communities under the guise of protecting others, doing the right thing, or in O’Neal’s case wiping his record clean after felony charges.  

(L-r) FBI Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) and Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) share details regarding Chairman Fred Hampton. Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Stanfield explained the importance of his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah” and the importance of Wiliam O’Neal’s role as the betrayer and Chairman Fred Hampton’s story of courage and sacrifice. “… I had to be courageous in this role and play something that was against what I believed in, because if he [Chairman Fred Hampton] was able to die for this, then I should be able to play a role for this,” Stanfield said. 

Hampton was shot in his sleep on Dec. 4, 1969, due to his extraordinary leadership of the Illinois Black Panther Party and his effort to unite larger groups in Illinois’s black communities in their fight. Law enforcement officials fired over in their effort to murder Hampton. 

Black communities across the nation still fight for the equity they deserve and still face police brutality similar to what Hampton faced, especially in and countless others. 

King’s film “Judas and the Black Messiah” is a must see and could be one of the most important films to debut in 2021.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. and | The UndergroundComments


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Brooke Crouse

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Leave this field empty if you’re human: RISEBy Brooke CrouseDirector Shaka King released one of the most important films of 2021 about the FBI plotted death of the Black Panther Party of Illinois Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) in 1969. By Annie ShihPenn Staters are ready to go remote for the remainder of the fall semester after a difficult semester during the pandemic. By Annie ShihPenn State’s Student Programming Association hosted a Q&A with Eric Andre via Zoom on Nov. 5. By Kaitlyn-AguilesAn overview of the Coronavirus and how to slow the spread. By Kaitlyn-AguilesPenn State has extended online classes to combat spread of COVID-19

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