• Jameen Willis

Black Men In History Series: Spike Lee


Man.... Spike Lee. One of my favorite people on the planet.


A lot of my inspiration as a writer and artist comes from Spike Lee. He is truly a cultural icon and in my opinion, one of the greatest Black Men In History.


From movies, to fashion, to a powerful unwillingness to compromise art form and moral beliefs, I can't think of a better example than Spike Lee.


If you don't know about Spike Lee, here is my "wiki" version as well as some of the top 10 facts about this cinematic and artistic genius.


Sheldon "Spike" Lee was born on March 20, 1957than to parents Jacqueline, a teacher of arts and black literature, and William James Edward Lee III, a jazz musician, and composer. He was born in Atlanta, but moved to Brooklyn as a child and is still a New Yorker until this day.


He has been married to attorney Tonya Lewis, since1992. They have one daughter, Satchel, born in 1994, and a son, Jackson, born in 1997.


Spike Lee is a film director, producer, writer, and actor with a historic body of work almost too vast and immeasurably valuable to name them all.


I could go on and on about Spike Lee, but here are the top 10 notable things about this Black Man In History:


1. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced more than 35 films since 1983. Some of his notable films include: Do The Right Thing, She's Got To Have It, Malcolm X, Inside Man, and Blackkklansman.


2. He is a famous sports fan, known for having courtside seats to games and talking trash to players. His favorite teams are the New York Knicks and the Yankees.


3. He attended Morehouse College, a historically black college, where he made his first student film, Last Hustle in Brooklyn. He took film courses at Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a B.A. in mass communication from Morehouse. He did graduate work at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in film and television.


4. Through a great admiration for Michael Jordan, Spike landed a business relationship with Nike, that includes a marketing deal and campaign for the Air Jordan brand, directing commercials, being an actor as the character "Mars Blackmon" with Jordan in commercials, and his own mashup version of Jordans called The Spizike. Side note, The Spizike is my favorite Jordan shoe of all time.


5. His list of awards and accomplishments includes an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a Student Academy Award, a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, two Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and the Cannes Grand Prix. He has also received an Academy Honorary Award, an Honorary BAFTA Award, an Honorary César, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize.


6. In 1985, Spike shot his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It. With a budget of $175,000, he shot the film in two weeks. When the film was released in 1986, it grossed over $7 million at the U.S. box office.


7. Time Magazine named him as one of the top 100 most influential people list of 2019.


8. Through his marketing division of 40 Acres and a Mule, Lee has directed commercials for Converse, Jaguar, Taco Bell, and Ben & Jerry's.


9. Some call Spike Lee "The Godfather of Black Film" due to his movies affectionately called

"Spike Lee Joints", highlighting race relations, colorism in the black community, urban crime, poverty, and political issues.


10. He will make history by serving as jury president for the upcoming 73rd annual Cannes Film Festival in 2020. He is the first black person to hold the prestigious position in the festival's history.


We salute this Black Man In History!








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