Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind the Making of “Jungle Fever”

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In Memory of Yusuf Hawkins

At the beginning of the movie, there’s a picture of a young, black teenager. That boy was Yusuf Hawkins. Hawkins was a 16 year old teenager when he was killed in the predominately Italian American neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in 1989. Hawkins and his friends went to Bensonhurst to inquire about a car that was for sale. ?While there, they were attacked by a mob of Italian men who incorrectly suspected that Hawkins was dating a white girl in the neighborhood. Yusuf Hawkins was the third black man killed by mobs in the ’80s. Spike Lee later said that Hawkins wasn’t killed because he was black, he was killed because they assumed he was dating a white woman. The real life incident set the tone for this fictional movie.

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