Why Spike Lee Dedicated BlaKkKlansman To Charlottesville Victim Heather Heyer

Ron and Patrice

While the filmmaking world has seen plenty of new directors become wild successes in the past few years, there are certain filmmakers that stand out with their contribution to the business. Director/writer/producer Spike Lee is certainly one of those legends, as he's received acclaim for his decades of movies, and for portraying the black experience in America through film. The latest Spike Lee joint to hit theaters is BlacKkKlansman, based on the crazy true life story of Detective Ron Stallworth, and his infiltration of a Ku Klux Klan chapter in the 1970s. The movie ends with a gut punching coda, showing footage of the Charlottesville attack that ultimately took the life of protestor Heather Heyer last year. BlacKkKlansman is dedicated to her memory, and I recently asked Spike Lee why that powerful choice was made. As he told me,

They're terrorist groups, and they murdered Heather Heyer. And when that happened, I knew that had to be the coda for the film. But only if I got the blessing of Heather's mother Susan Bro. So I was able to get her number, and she gave me the blessing.

Spike Lee has always been an inherently political filmmaker, tackling issues of race, discrimination, and violence. So when the Charlottesville Car Attack occurred in the midst of political clashing, Lee was inspired to complete the filming of BlacKkKlansman, and ultimately end the film with a powerful and harrowing tribute to Heather Heyer's death.

BlacKkKlansman's tribute to Heather Heyer makes sense if you know Spike Lee's track record and political views. But the director was also careful to honor Heather's mother Susan Bro. In our conversation about the film's ending, Lee also revealed he got explicit permission from Bro to include the Charlottesville footage and final message for Heather. So while audience may be shocked by the directorial choice, Lee was sure to be respectful to those involved.

You can check out my conversation with Spike Lee, and see how passionately he feels about Charlottesville and other violent events in the country.

Heather Heyer's tribute in BlacKkKlansman will no doubt taking almost all audiences by surprise, as its in stark juxtaposition to the film's narrative conclusion. The good guys ultimately come out on top, wrapping up the story with a nice little bow, complete with Ron Stallworth prank calling Topher Grace's David Duke. And just when you think its safe to go home, the Charlottesville footage is shown, and the message of the film is brought to the modern age.

BlacKkKlansman is in theaters now, complete with Heather Heyer's tribute and a previously unreleased Prince song. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.