How Samuel L. Jackson’s Activism Got Him Expelled From Morehouse

samuel l jackson
Adé Hennis
May 21, 2024

Samuel Jackson has been in many hostage movies. Maybe that’s because directors value his experience taking hostages in real life. One of them was Martin Luther King Sr.! But why was Jackson holding MLK’s father hostage?

In 1969, Jackson and other Morehouse men had simple demands: improved community involvement; people of color forming a voting majority of the board of trustees; and a consolidated school focused on Black studies. After a 29-hour standoff, where students locked themselves inside a school building along with trustees like MLK Sr., an agreement was reached. Although Jackson was later expelled, he remained committed to civil rights.

Stealing white people’s credit cards for the SNCC’s ammunition stockpile while feeding kids in Atlanta sounds like a script for a modern reboot of Robin Hood, but Jackson wasn’t faking. Things got real when his mother showed up on his doorstep in the summer of 1969.

 Jackson’s mother rushed him to Atlanta’s airport and booked him on a one-way flight to Los Angeles. The FBI, which had Jackson under surveillance, had warned her that he’d be dead within a year if he didn’t stop. Jackson’s career as an activist took a detour to Hollywood.

Jackson’s radical roots remind us that the spirit of resistance lives in all of us. How will you lean into your star power for Black liberation?