There are some people who become almost mythical figures. Fred Hampton is one of them. The revolutionary Black Panther Party leader died in 1969 at age 21 during an FBI raid. Hampton’s story is full of conspiracies, controversy, and often inaccurate thoughts about his work. The upcoming film Judas and the Black Messiah aims to look at his life through an authentic lens. The film will release in 2021 due to COVID-19 but a new trailer is causing a buzz on social media.
Judas and the Black Messiah features an all-star cast including Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton. Kaluuya is joined by Lakeith Stanfield (William O’Neal), Jesse Plemons (Roy Mitchell), Dominique Fishback (Deborah Johnson), and Martin Sheen (J. Edgar Hoover) among others. The film is produced by none other than Ryan Coogler and director Shaka King, who also wrote the screenplay.
The trailer starts with Hampton leading a crowd in a revolutionary chant. He’s charismatic, proud, and certainly has the attention of everyone around him. O’Neal shakes hands with an FBI officer as he begins to insert himself into Hampton’s world. It’s clear that the organization is using him to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and take down Fred Hampton.
Hampton later speaks to a diverse crowd and says they will come together for the greater good. He’s shown giving uplifting words to a group of Black kids while O’Neal says the organization is far from being terrorists. Hampton prophetically says you can murder a revolutionary but you can’t murder a revolution before the clip ends with some strife.
In real life, O’Neal played a key role in the death of Fred Hampton. He rose in the Black Panther Party ranks, becoming head of Hampton’s security and a key holder for safe houses. But, he also worked for the FBI in exchange for them overlooking his recent crimes. He helped the organization get the floor plans to carry out a raid resulting in Hampton’s murder. So, he’s obviously the Judas in Judas and the Black Messiah.
O’Neal’s blew his cover, went into witness protection, and hid until 1984. He returned to Chicago quietly but seemingly never got over his guilt. O’Neal died by suicide in 1990 after running into traffic on Chicago’s Eisenhour Expressway.
Judas and the Black Messiah will show the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton, and a connection ending in tragedy in an interesting light.
Featured Image: Warner Bros.