BlackKklansman’s Spike Lee has set up his next feature directorial role with his third movie adaptation of a one-man stage show by Roger Guenveur Smith, ‘Frederick Douglass Now’.
The film will be the third time that Lee and Smith have collaborated on a project, the others were ‘A Huey P. Newton Story’ and ‘Rodney King’. Netflix acquired the rights for ‘Rodney King’.
Douglass is one of the most outstanding figures in U.S. history: a self-liberated slave, orator, publisher, and pioneering feminist who pleaded the case for abolition before Abraham Lincoln and made plans with the President for moving freed slaves to the North during the Civil War. Douglass lived from 1818 to 1895.
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Smith, who has appeared in at least 10 of Lee’s movies dating back to 1988’s School Daze. His one-man show includes him rapping from his own text, combining references to slavery and contemporary life in the U.S. The performance then continues with Smith quoting extracts from Douglass’ essays and letters, and returns to Smith’s own writing for the finale, during which he sings: “If there is no progress, Frederick Douglass is still alive.”
The film will also feature the music jazz artist Branford Marsalis and Marc Anthony Thompson who has been a collaborator with Smith for many years. Thompson also composed the scores for ‘A Huey P. Newton Story’ and ‘Rodney King’.
Spike Lee’s joints have for many years delved into the hard-hitting subjects, his last ‘BlackKklansman’ focused on the story of Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, who successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish colleague.