Judas and the Black Messiah has inspired a new congressional bill which aims to strip J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI building in Washington, D.C. The Oscar-contending Shaka King drama about the death of Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton at the hands of Hoover’s FBI department has renewed conversations about the first director of the FBI, and has revived a bill to remove Hoover’s name from the FBI building.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), the U.S. Representative from Tennessee’s 9th congressional district since 2007, has reintroduced a bill to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI building, which was named after Hoover following his death in 1972. Deadline reports that Cohen is working with lawmakers on the bill in the aftermath of the movie’s release, and its eye-opening depiction of the FBI’s part in infiltrating the Black Panther party and assassinating Fred Hampton.
“The movie is a clear depiction of [Hoover’s] efforts to impeded the civil rights movement,” Cohen said, adding that Hoover “doesn’t deserve the honor and recognition of having the nation’s premiere law enforcement agency headquarters named for him. The civil rights we enjoy today are in spite of J. Edgar Hoover, not because of him.” According to Deadline, the bill has around a dozen co-sponsors.
Although Judas and the Black Messiah has not screened in D.C. yet due to the pandemic, Cohen reportedly saw the movie several weeks ago and got to work on reintroducing the legislation to remove Hoover’s name from the building. Cohen said that he has gotten backlash from Republicans, who call his bill a product of “cancel culture,” but the congressman believes that Hoover’s actions “can be looked upon from a different perspective,” in the aftermath of the past summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
While the bill is not a “front burner issue” in the House yet, Cohen said he is optimistic that it can go into effect. It will be Cohen’s second attempt at bringing the bill to Congress, after first introducing the legislation in 2015 when he saw the documentary from Michael Isikoff titled Uniquely Nasty: The Government War on Gays, which chronicled Hoover’s efforts to remove LGBTQ figures from the government in the 1950s. Needless to say, there are many minority groups who would be happy to have Hoover’s name stripped forever from the Brutalist (honestly, kind of ugly looking) FBI building.
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