Many words can be used to describe reformed drug kingpin “Freeway” Ricky Ross. He was often labeled as a cancer to his community; a parasite who clawed feverishly into the soft-tissue of inner-city Los Angeles. Others who know him intimately have gone on record to dispute claims of Ross’ recalcitrant behavior, citing several examples of his charity toward the less fortunate, his friends and family.
Ross’ public persona is multifaceted—it consists of several layers that have all undergone various stages of evolution over the past few decades. Today, Ross continues to jump through burning hoops in order to revitalize his otherwise tainted image. However, at 55 years old, Ross’ newfound goodness accounts for only a small portion of his notoriously criminal history.
After toying with the idea of playing professional tennis, Ross began slinging crack-cocaine as a teenager in the late 1970’s. The young dope-dealer went on to establish one of the most lucrative drug-trafficking operations in modern American history. In time, however, Ross’ empire crumbled under the intense scrutiny of law enforcement. He eventually paid for his transgressions by serving hard time in prison. Ross uses this experience as a cautionary tale for disadvantaged youth, and he outlines his past conquests in a self-titled book, “Freeway Rick Ross: The Untold Autobiography.”
In an effort to attract more attention to his legacy, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival will premiere Ross’ documentary, “Freeway: Crack in the System” on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Marc Levin (“SLAM,” “Mr. Untouchable Brick City”), the 103-minute documentary exposes how the infiltration of crack cocaine destroyed inner-city neighborhoods across the country. At the center of it all is the rise, fall, and redemption of Freeway Rick Ross—a street hustler who became the King of Crack—and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb, who broke the story of the CIAs complicity in the drug war, and whose story is currently explored in the Focus Features film, “Kill the Messenger” starring Jeremy Renner.
A Q&A will follow the screening of the documentary. Guest speakers include Freeway Rick Ross, Mark Levin, Coach Cornell Ward, Coral Baca, and Robert Juarez. The screening will be launched at RAVE Cinemas in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles.