Ron Stallworth

Ron Stallworth

Photo Credit: Focus Features

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew Up... with discipline. Ron’s father was in the military and raised his son strictly.

Living... in Colorado Springs, in the early 1970s.

Profession... the first black officer in the Colorado Springs Police Department. After working a tedious assignment in the records room, Stallworth requests to be transferred to the intelligence division to do undercover work—a pretty big request for a rookie cop. As he explains to his boss, “I think I could do some good there.”

Interests... Pam Grier movies, disco dancing.

Relationship Status... casually dating Patrice Dumas, the president of the Black Student Union at a local college. However, their relationship is complicated by the fact that Ron was working undercover to infiltrate a local civil rights rally when they first met when. Patrice thinks she and Ron share the same goals and values, but she doesn’t realize that he actually works for the police—an organization she deeply criticizes.

Challenge... infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. After seeing an ad in the paper for a local chapter, Ron places a phone call in the guise of a racist white person and expresses interest in joining the organization. He figures that infiltrating the KKK is the best way to prevent any hate crimes they might seek to commit. Of course, given that Ron is black, he can’t exactly just show up to a KKK meeting. While Ron continues to handle the phone conversations—including with Grand Wizard David Duke—he enlists his white co-worker Philip “Flip” Zimmerman to act as his in-person stand-in. As Ron explains, “Black Ron Stallworth over the phone, white Ron Stallworth face-to-face, so there becomes a combined Ron Stallworth.”

Personality... laser-focused. In a prejudiced world, Ron has learned to turn the other cheek and keep his frustrations in check. When Ron has a goal in mind, he goes after it with single-minded focus, sometimes not thinking through the full consequences of his actions. He can come across a little buttoned-up and stiff, but Ron has a deep commitment to justice and a fiery hatred of racism and oppression. He just believes it’s better to work within a broken system to improve it, rather than tearing down the system altogether. Yet in balancing an optimism about the future with a world-weariness about the present, Ron sometimes feels like he’s two different people at once.


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