Spike Lee Fights Accusations of Racism

Film director defends himself during MLK speech

By Hannah Chanpong
|  Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011  |  Updated 11:00 AM CDT
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Spike Lee Fights Accusations of Racism

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NEW YORK - MAY 3: Film maker Spike Lee arrives to the benefit gala for the Melvin Van Peebles Foundation of "BAADASSSSS!" May 3, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

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Spike Lee stood up to criticism Tuesday from two local Italian-American groups fighting against his invitation to speak at North Central College in Naperville.

The actor and film director called the groups' protest a double standard, the Daily Herald reports.

The National Italian-American Council and the Italic Institute of America spoke out against Lee's visit during the college's celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King on Tuesday, saying his work stereotypes Italian-Americans. The groups cited the films "Do the Right Thing" and "Summer of Sam" as examples, according to the report.

Lee pointed out during his keynote speech that many famous Italian-American directors also portray these stereotypes. He quoted "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" and asked why he couldn't use similar expressions.

Lee's lecture lasted almost two hours. He also spoke about King's history and legacy, the Daily Herald reports. North Central's celebration continues through this week.
 

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