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‘The Power Of Unity’: Spike Lee Reminisces on How Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and More Helped Fund His Iconic Film ‘Malcolm X’

It has been nearly three decades since director Spike Lee released his critically acclaimed 1992 film “Malcolm X,” starring Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington. As he recently reflected on what it took to bring the movie to fruition, Lee recalled how he received major assistance from two heavy hitters in the Black community: Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

With a photo posted of Johnson and Jordan, Lee took to Instagram on March 28 and wrote, “Last night I posted the Sam Cooke ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ scene from Malcolm X. I must thank (again) the prominent African-Americans who saved the film, they wrote a check to me so I could continue to finish it after the money had run out. Their checks were gifts from their hearts. We should all thank MAGIC JOHNSON, MICHAEL JORDAN, OPRAH WINFREY, JANET JACKSON, PRINCE, TRACEY CHAMPMAN, PEGGY COOPER-CAYFRITZ AND BILL COSBY.”

Spike Lee discusses how his film “Malcolm X” received funding from Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. @officialspikelee/Instagram

As the acclaimed director actually revealed around the time “Malcolm X” was made, he received backing for the film from Warner Bros., but when the studio and then the bonding company that took over responsibility for completion of the project refused to allot more money to allow Lee to complete the movie according to his vision for it, he turned for assistance to the deep-pocketed Black celebrities who wrote the checks that made it possible for him to put the final touches on his cinematic labor of love.

Those who support the work of the Morehouse College graduate and devoted New York Knicks fan poured out their thoughts into the comments section.

Fellow director and actor Nate Parker even commented, “When our village helps tell our stories👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾”

“The power of unity💜. Thank you each,” read the words of another person.

“When black men & women come together, we produce magic!!”

“Gifts from the greats glad they were here to help film will always be a classic.”

Another person summed up the message and photo to one word: “Legends.”

Under his imprint 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Lee has released several iconic works, including “Do the Right Thing,” “Jungle Fever,” “School Daze,” “Crooklyn” and “The BlackKklansman,” to name a few.

In his 40-year career, Lee’s films have amassed more than $500 million at the box office despite often the director being labled as controversial.

“I have never like the word ‘controversial’ because to me it’s biased,” explained Lee to Forbes. “If you talking about dealing with human beings and how they’re denied their rights, whether it be racism, sexism, homophpobia, whatever, to me, that’s not controversial.”

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