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Microphone Check Live: 'The Spook Who Sat By The Door' Screening

This week, in honor of Black History Month, we went down to NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C., to screen Sam Greenlee's 1973 film The Spook Who Sat by the Door and host a conversation about its resonance.

In case you're not familiar with the cult classic, the main character is Dan Freeman, who's trained by the CIA to be its first black agent. After he masters the agency's tactics, he goes home to the southside of Chicago on a mission to train street gangs to be "Freedom Fighters." When a young man is shot dead by the police, Freeman's trainees spring into action. What happens in the end is open to interpretation, as you'll hear at the start of this recording of our panel discussion.

The members of our panel are Dr. Greg Carr, Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University, Jamilah Lemieux, Senior Editor at Ebony Magazine, and K. Nyerere Ture, an anthropologist and professor at Morgan State University.

The panel and the audience discussed the film's themes of resistance and intra-racial tension as well as the erasure of the Black Arts movement from mainstream discussion of black history. "The villain of the film," said Dr. Carr, "is the idea of the nation-state."


Special thanks: Erin McIntyre, Dennis Herndon, Keith Woods, Darlene Barkley, Justin Lucas, Brittany Brown, Neil Tevault, Bobby Carter, Eleanor Kagan, Morgan McCloy, Joe Hagen and Anya Grundmann.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.