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I-95 Southbound Exit 17 To: MD 202, Landover Rd, to Upper Marlboro near Hyattsville, MD
Ok now Road Warriors, I have a quick question. What is the name of the highest grossing actor who was born in the poorest neighborhood in Washington DC?
An observant person may need an informed understanding of our cultural decay to appreciate the intransigence of our history. Well before the Black Lives Matter movement, this Hollywood Star was a 1960’s Black Activist who pushed non-violent disobedience to the edge. He did so because he thought he could change the direction of our society through radical action. Later he grew to appreciate the importance of art in subtly influencing the arc of history.
Samuel L Jackson was born here in Washington DC. Hugely prolific, the sheer number of films in which Jackson has appeared have collectively grossed over $27 billion worldwide. This makes Sam Jackson the highest-grossing actor of all time.
In many of his movie roles he taps into his personal demons of rebellion and addiction to create highly attractive yet morally nebulous roles. But don’t be surprised into thinking Hollywood is his sole rodeo.
Samuel L. Jackson has diverse interests, from civil rights to marine biology. In fact at Martin Luther King’s alma mater, Morehouse College In Atlanta Georgia, Sam initially pursued a degree in marine biology. Still, college seemed a world away from the Civil Rights movement and Sam wanted more than a degree. He wanted to be a part of the movement and he wanted to bring the movement to campus. This would be an explosive convergence of events.
You see, while young Sam was born in Washington he spent his years before college growing up with his grandparents in Jim Crow Tennessee. “I had anger in me,” Jackson told Parade magazine in 2005. “It came from growing up suppressed in a segregated society. All those childhood years of ‘whites only’ places and kids passing you on the bus, yelling, the N word!” There was nothing I could do about it then.”
Immersed in Deep South racial strife, after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackson left school to attend the funeral in Atlanta. He even served as one of the ushers. Angry and emboldened, Jackson then flew to Memphis to join an equal rights protest.
In the Parade Magazine interview Sam revealed: "I was angry about the assassination, but I wasn't shocked by it. I knew that change was going to take something different – not sit-ins, not peaceful coexistence.”
In 1969, Sam Jackson and other students held members of the Morehouse College board of trustees hostage at gun point. One of the hostages was none other than the father of MLK, Martin Luther King, Senior. The students demanded that the school put more African Americans on its board of trustees. The college agreed, but Jackson was arrested and charged. He was convicted of unlawful confinement, a second-degree felony. Morehouse then suspended Sam for his his actions.
Sam stayed in Atlanta during his suspension. After joining a local acting group on a whim, Jackson’s interest in drama blossomed. No doubt he appreciated the huge influence of film on modern culture. Not content just with core credits, he co-founded an off-campus actors ensemble “The Just Us Theatre”.
After his 2 year suspension, Jackson matriculated back into Morehouse College where he switched his major from Marine Biology to Drama. He graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama.
Despite battling drug addictions, Sam found his way to Hollywood where he quickly became a box office star. First as a fixture in Director Spike Lee’s early art house films, Jackson pivoted to starring roles in wide release films like Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Django Unchained and the remake of Shaft.
Today he is clean and sober, pensive and gracious — but no less engaged. In general he sees our culture declining in the face of populist politics based in ignorance. Says the former Marine Biologist: “I can’t imagine Dr. King watching the Real Housewives or Jersey Shore. We’ve come a long way in our thinking, but also in our moral decay.”
Sam still seeks change. But unlike the young activist kidnapping college administrators and suing for radical revolution, today Sam seeks a change more certain and permanent. As an artist, he participates in the movement through his influence as one of the biggest and certainly the most soulful stars in all Hollywood’s firmament.
#SamuelLJackson #MoorehouseCollege #DrMartinLutherKingJr #BLM #BLackLivesMatter #SpikeLee #StarWars #JurassicPark #PulpFiction