In 1969, actor Samuel L. Jackson was expelled from historically black Morehouse College for locking board members in a building for two days in protest of the school’s curriculum and governance. Included in this group of people who were held hostage was Martin Luther King Jr.’s very own father, Martin Luther King Sr.
He and a group of radical Morehouse students held the college’s board of trustees hostage, demanding that changes be made in the curriculum of the school and stating that they wanted more blacks on the governing board of the institution. Morehouse eventually gave in and agreed to change but Jackson was suspended for his actions and convicted of unlawful confinement
That summer he became connected with people in the Black Power movement including Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and others.
I was in that radical faction,” Jackson told Parade. “We were buying guns, getting ready for armed struggle. ‘All of a sudden,’ he said proudly, ‘I felt I had a voice. I was somebody. I could make a difference. ‘But then one day,’ he added quietly, ‘my mom showed up and put me on a plane to L.A. She said, ‘Do not come back to Atlanta.’ The FBI had been to the house and told her that if I didn’t get out of Atlanta, there was a good possibility I’d be dead within a year. She freaked out.
Jackson stayed in LA working in social services for two years and then applied to Morehouse and returning in January of 1971 as a drama major. “I decided that theater would now be my politics. It could engage people and affect the way they think. It might even change some minds,” he told Parade.
Sam Jackson has been actively advocating for the rights of African Americans for decades. Much like the “Ice Bucket Challenge, of 2014,” Samuel L. Jackson called upon his fellow celebrity figures to join the current movement to raise awareness about the actions of “racist police” throughout the United States. Jackson posted a short video of himself issuing the challenge to his famous peers to sing the “We Ain’t Gonna Stop ‘Til People Are Free” song. In its lyrics, Jackson specifically calls out “violence of the racist police.”
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