Before COVID-19 annihilated the 2020 theatrical release schedule, one of the movies we were most excited for this month was Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah (originally titled Jesus Was My Homeboy), which was going to tell the story of how Black revolutionary Fred Hampton was betrayed by an undercover operative in the Black Panthers and set up for his assassination at the hands of the FBI in late 1969. It’s a deeply, deeply fucked-up story, and King assembled an all-star cast, led by Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, to bring Hampton’s story to the screen. It was supposed to hit theaters in just under three weeks from now, but, sadly, it has been pushed back into 2021.
Still, Warner Bros. decided to release a trailer for the film late on Thursday night, and, honestly, you’ve gotta check this out. Here it is:
Now, normally we wouldn’t do this, but given that it is a Friday, we’re going to post the full text of what is the single longest synopsis we have ever seen from a studio about a movie outside of press notes. Enjoy:
“Chairman Fred Hampton was 21 years old when he was assassinated by the FBI, who coerced a petty criminal named William O’Neal to help them silence him and the Black Panther Party. But they could not kill Fred Hampton’s legacy and, 50 years later, his words still echo… louder than ever.
I am a revolutionary!
In 1968, a young, charismatic activist named Fred Hampton became Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, who were fighting for freedom, the power to determine the destiny of the Black community, and an end to police brutality and the slaughter of Black people.
Chairman Fred was inspiring a generation to rise up and not back down to oppression, which put him directly in the line of fire of the government, the FBI and the Chicago Police. But to destroy the revolution, they had to do it from both the outside…and the inside. Facing prison, William O’Neal is offered a deal by the FBI: if he will infiltrate the Black Panthers and provide intel on Hampton, he will walk free. O’Neal takes the deal.
Now a comrade in arms in the Black Panther Party, O’Neal lives in fear that his treachery will be discovered even as he rises in the ranks. But as Hampton’s fiery message draws him in, O’Neal cannot escape the deadly trajectory of his ultimate betrayal.
Though his life was cut short, Fred Hampton’s impact has continued to reverberate. The government saw the Black Panthers as a militant threat to the status quo and sold that lie to a frightened public in a time of growing civil unrest. But the perception of the Panthers was not reality. In inner cities across America, they were providing free breakfasts for children, legal services, medical clinics and research into sickle cell anemia, and political education. And it was Chairman Fred in Chicago, who, recognizing the power of multicultural unity for a common cause, created the Rainbow Coalition –joining forces with other oppressed peoples in the city to fight for equality and political empowerment.”
Now delayed, Judas and the Black Messiah will hit theaters in 2021.