Another BET Awards has come and gone and this year’s Best Movie winner was one of the most hard-hitting films we’ve seen for a while. Judas and the Black Messiah was the film we most needed in a political climate where people have to be reminded that black lives matter.

Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah / Photo Credit: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah / Photo Credit: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Out of the six movies nominated, Judas and the Black Messiah starring Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield was one of only two telling a real black story - and one of the most significant in the history of racial justice at that. 

The 1966 Black Panther Party. It’s an extremely important piece of black history, but it’s still a story that hadn’t been told in mainstream cinema until the arrival of this Oscar-winning biopic. 

It’s the story of a barbaric betrayal which saw Illinois BPP chairman Fred Hampton assassinated with the help of FBI informant Bill O’Neal. In the face of propaganda labelling the party as dangerous, hatred-spreading terrorists, O’Neal is forced to infiltrate the movement to uncover the dark underbelly of these black revolutionaries - only to find that there wasn’t one.

Still, that didn’t stop O’Neal’s fear of repercussions if the Black Panthers discovered that he works for the FBI, and he carries through the FBI’s plan to drug and murder Hampton under sociopathic manipulation by the bureau. 

This isn’t just a story about how black people have always been targeted by the US government and made out to be deadly criminals, but also how they’ve systematically manipulated black people to go against their own judgements and their own people out of fear that they’ll also experience deadly consequences in standing up for their rights. In O’Neal’s case, this manipulation led to his eventual suicide.

To this day, Fred Hamption’s son Fred Hampton Jr. is still campaigning for the rights of POC. It’s over fifty years since a lawsuit was filed against the FBI over his father’s death, and while that was settled in 1982, and we’ve seen a black president since that time, racism in America is still rife as ever.

Unfortunately, Daniel Kaluuya lost out on Best Actor at the BET Awards to his Black Panther co-star the late Chadwick Boseman - though as Marvel’s Black Panther himself, that feels only appropriate.

He did, however, win his first Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. It’s also worth noting that Kaluuya’s 2019 movie Queen & Slim was last year’s BET Award winner. 

MORE: Chadwick Boseman honoured at 2021 BET Awards

With those under his belt alongside 2017’s racial thriller Get Out, he’s quickly becoming an icon for telling black stories in mainstream cinema.

by for

Tagged in