Ron Stallworth

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Ron Stallworth
Ron Stallworth.jpg
Born (1953-06-18) June 18, 1953 (age 66)
EducationColumbia College (Salt Lake City)
Known forInfiltration of the KKK
Notable work
Black Klansman (2014)
Police career
DepartmentColorado Springs Police
Service years1972–1980
Civilian police career
DepartmentUtah Public Safety
Service years1986–2005
WebsiteOfficial website

Ron Stallworth (born June 18, 1953) is an American retired police officer who infiltrated the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the late 1970s. He was the first African-American police officer and detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department.[1][2]

The 2018 film BlacKkKlansman is based on his experience infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. In the film, he is portrayed by John David Washington.

Early life[edit]

Stallworth was born June 18, 1953[3] in Chicago, Illinois and raised in El Paso, Texas after his mother moved the family there. According to Stallworth, "[m]y mother's moving our family to El Paso was the best decision she ever made, as the city was a far cry from the poverty, gangs, and conflict in Chicago's South Side, where I would have come of age if she had not left."[4]

Stallworth graduated from Austin High School in 1971, where he was a member of the student council, and a member of a district-wide advisory board; he was also voted "most popular".[5]

Colorado Springs Police Department[edit]

In the summer of 1972, his family moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Stallworth first took an interest in a career in law enforcement.[1] He joined the department as a cadet in November 1972.

According to Stallworth himself, he knew, even as a cadet, that he wanted to work as an undercover police officer eventually. His first undercover assignment came when Stokely Carmichael was invited to speak at a black nightclub in Colorado Springs. Stallworth was asked if he would go undercover to observe the speech, and he eagerly accepted the assignment. He was subsequently assigned to the intelligence section of his department.[1]

Infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan[edit]

In 1979, Stallworth noticed a classified ad in the local paper seeking members to start a new chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs. Stallworth responded to the posting via mail to a P.O. box, and provided them an address and phone number. A member of the KKK called Stallworth, who then posed as a racist white man who "hated blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Asians". During the conversation, he learned that the man founding the new chapter was a soldier at nearby Fort Carson. Stallworth arranged to meet the man at a local bar and sent a white undercover narcotics officer, wired to record any conversations, to stand in for him at the meeting.[6]

The subterfuge was a success and Stallworth continued to pose as a KKK member for the next nine months, usually talking on the phone with other members and sending the white officer in his place when face-to-face meetings were necessary. Stallworth phoned David Duke, who was the Grand Wizard of the KKK at the time, at his headquarters in New Orleans to ask about the status of his membership application. Duke apologized for the delay in getting the application processed and promised to see to it personally that Stallworth's application was processed and sent to him. Within a short time, Stallworth's Klan certificate of membership arrived in the mail, signed by Duke. Stallworth framed the certificate and hung it on the wall of his office, where it stayed for years.[6]


After the investigation into the Klan closed, Stallworth kept it a secret and told no one about his role in it. He transferred to the Utah Department of Public Safety, where he retired in 2005 after working as an investigator for nearly 20 years. After retirement he earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Columbia College's Salt Lake City Campus in 2007.[7][8]

In January 2006, Stallworth gave an interview to the Deseret News of Salt Lake City in which he related the details of his infiltration and investigation of the KKK.[9] He disclosed that the investigation revealed several Klan members were active members of the United States Armed Forces, including two individuals posted at NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and protection for Northern America). The two at NORAD were reassigned and Stallworth was told that they were given remote postings, "somewhere like the North Pole or Greenland".[10]

In 2014, Stallworth published a book, Black Klansman, about his experience investigating the KKK. For his source material, he used a casebook that he assembled during the assignment and kept for himself after it was over.[11] The book was taken to QC Entertainment by producer Shaun Redick to make a film based on it called BlacKkKlansman. Spike Lee signed on as co-producer and director.[12] The film was released in 2018, with John David Washington playing the role of Stallworth.[13][14] BlacKkKlansman won the Grand Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Taylor, M. (May 30, 2014). "The Black Undercover Cop Who Infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado". Vice. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  2. ^ Simon, S. (June 9, 2018). "How A Black Detective Infiltrated The KKK". NPR. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  3. ^ Ross, Monique (August 7, 2018). "The black cop who infiltrated the KKK". ABC News. Stallworth persevered, and was officially sworn in on June 18, 1974, his 21st birthday.
  4. ^ Stallworth 2014, p. 9.
  5. ^ "AHS 2018 Outstanding Ex". Austin High School Alumni Association.
  6. ^ a b Gordon, E. (February 16, 2006). "How a Black Cop Joined the KKK". NPR. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  7. ^ Karas, Michelle. "'Black Klansman' author Ron Stallworth speaks to capacity crowd at Pikes Peak Community College". Colorado Springs Gazette.
  8. ^ McKinney, Roger (August 30, 2018). "Ron Stallworth, the real black Klansman, visits Columbia". Columbia Daily Tribune.
  9. ^ Vogrin, B. (May 21, 2014). "Ex-Colorado Springs cop recalls his time as black member of Ku Klux Klan". The Gazette. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  10. ^ Bulkeley, D. (January 12, 2006). "Black sergeant was 'loyal Klansman'". Deseret News. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  11. ^ Dickerson, J. (May 13, 2014). "Ron Stallworth, Police Sergeant, Chronicles His Experience As Undercover KKK Member". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  12. ^ Kit, B. (September 8, 2017). "'Black Klansman' KKK Thriller in the Works From Spike Lee, Jordan Peele". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Johnson, T. (May 15, 2018). "Spike Lee's true-story thriller 'BlacKkKlansman' debuts to standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival". NBC News. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  14. ^ Brown, D. L. (August 10, 2018). "'BlacKkKlansman': How black detective Ron Stallworth infiltrated the Colorado Klan". Washington Post. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  15. ^ "Festival de Cannes Feature Films". Retrieved September 3, 2018.


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