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TCNJ alums hit the red carpet at 2021 Academy Awards

TCNJ alums hit the red carpet at 2021 Academy Awards

The Lucas Brothers, Kenny and Keith, co-wrote the original screenplay for the Oscar-nominated film Judas and the Black Messiah. The brothers graduated from TCNJ in 2007. | Photo: thelucasbros.com

As Hollywood prepares for its biggest night of the year, twin brothers Keith ’07 and Kenny Lucas ’07 are poised to represent TCNJ in a big way with their Best Screenplay nomination for Judas and the Black Messiah.

The brothers’ idea for Judas — which honors the life of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was assassinated by police in 1969 — was first sparked when they learned about Hampton in a TCNJ African American Studies class. Hampton’s story stuck with them, and though most of their careers had been rooted in the world of comedy, they vowed to one day tell it.

“Fred Hampton’s a footnote in Black history,” Keith told NJ.com’s Amy Kuperinsky. “Even in that class, his story wasn’t emphasized. It was almost like in passing.”

Starring Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther) as Hampton, the movie explores his betrayal by William O’Neal, who infiltrated the group, befriended Hampton, and then turned him over to the FBI.

“Once you hear about Fred Hampton’s assassination, it’s not a story that leaves you,” Keith says.

The biopic has garnered national attention, including Academy Award nods for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song, and Best Original Screenplay.

Judas and the Black Messiah | Photo courtesy WarnerBros.com

The film has already earned the Lucas brothers The Paul Selvin Award, given by the Writers Guild of America for a “script that best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere and to those whose defense Paul Selvin committed his professional life.”

“It feels amazing,” Kenny told Colorlines about the film’s accolades. “Considering the process that went into getting it done, the history that was made, the fact that the film was well-received, I’m very excited about it.”

Says Keith: “It was good that we were able to honor Fred’s legacy at the highest level, and that matters to me more than anything.”


Dave Pavlak

Freedom reader: Alumnus Larry Abrams wins MLK award for getting books into kids’ hands.

Freedom reader: Alumnus Larry Abrams wins MLK award for getting books into kids’ hands.

“Why shouldn’t every kid in America have books?” That question tugged at Larry Abrams MAT ’01 as a young teacher in Lindenwold, New Jersey, when he learned that many students in his economically disadvantaged district didn’t have access to books at home. And that question became his motivation with BookSmiles, a labor of love —… Continue Reading

Students still MUSE despite coronavirus challenges

Students still MUSE despite coronavirus challenges

For more than a decade, TCNJ’s Mentored Undergraduate Summer Experience (MUSE) has given students an invaluable opportunity to conduct research alongside members of the faculty. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and limited on-campus engagement this year, the program was a success with 70 students collaborating with 40 faculty members on 46 projects. The… Continue Reading

Trenton’s Puerto Rican history captured with a collaborative research project

Trenton’s Puerto Rican history captured with a collaborative research project

Despite a less than hospitable welcome and tasked with overcoming racism in the 1950s, Trenton’s first Latinx members established successful business, education, and public service opportunities in the city that still stand today. The stories of these pioneering residents were recently captured in a cross-disciplinary research project involving students and faculty from the School of… Continue Reading

This mechanical engineering alumnus is taking the public’s temperature amid the coronavirus

This mechanical engineering alumnus is taking the public’s temperature amid the coronavirus

As states begin to relax their quarantine guidelines, more people will be venturing back to work, enjoying public outings, and eventually, returning to school. With the risk of a second wave of the coronavirus a possibility, having the ability to quickly detect if someone is sick is crucial to stopping a local outbreak. Using a… Continue Reading

Alyssa Silva ’20 gets a commencement surprise while serving her country during COVID-19

Alyssa Silva ’20 gets a commencement surprise while serving her country during COVID-19

When Alyssa Silva enlisted in the New Jersey National Guard in March 2018, she took an oath to protect and serve her country above all else. That promise came with the understanding that there would be personal sacrifices — including potentially missing her college graduation. But this is a happy story. Silva ’20, a specialist… Continue Reading

Mechanical engineering alumnus helps make face shields for NY hospitals

Mechanical engineering alumnus helps make face shields for NY hospitals

Andrew Ziemer ’19 is helping the doctors and nurses who are facing supply shortages of personal protective equipment. Working around state orders to remain indoors during the health crisis, Ziemer is part of a team that is 3D printing face shields that are being donated to local New York hospitals — all from the safety… Continue Reading

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