Black Lightning: Police Stop Scene Inspired by Showrunner’s Experience

Black Lightning Cress Williams

The CW’s Black Lightning is warming fans up for its premiere next week with a shocking, yet socially relevant, clip of Jefferson Pierce, the retired titular superhero, front and center as a victim of racial profiling.

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In a two-minute long promo clip, we see Jefferson pulled over by the cops without reason before being handcuffed in the rain -- the third time this has happened in a month, according to Jefferson. As his family reacts the cops begin to show excessive force, leading to them trying to record the confrontation via cellphone. At the end of the encounter where Jefferson reluctantly follows the police's orders, the cops end up laughing off the incident as a case of mistaken identity. This leads to Jefferson's electrical powers sparking.

The scene was tailored to reflect the real-life experiences of showrunner Salim Akil. "I had been stopped by the police quite a few times, but my anger in being stopped again was about to get me killed," Akil said in an interview with The New York Times. "I stopped putting on the mask of, this is how I’m supposed to act in these situations. At a certain point, I closed my eyes and took a moment. And I asked myself, is this really worth dying for?”

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It's clear that Black Lightning won't be mincing its sociopolitical statements as it delves into Jefferson as a high school principal with two daughters -- one of whom joins his crusade -- who is grappling with his crimefighting past. He stepped away from the superhero lifestyle because of what it did to his family, but now a new threat has taken hold in his neighborhood, prompting him to once again don his superpowered persona.

Debuting Tuesday, Jan. 16, Black Lightning stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, China Anne McClain as his younger daughter Jennifer Pierce, Nafessa Williams as his older daughter Anissa Pierce, Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce, James Remar as Peter Gambi, Damon Gupton as Henderson, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III as Tobias Whale and Chantal Thuy as Grace Choi.

(via i09)

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