The story of ten extraordinary years, four groundbreaking cases, and one unconventional federal judge, whose rulings changed the face of civil rights in the United States.
It may be the greatest story you never heard.
Damon J. Keith was first appointed to the U.S. District Court in Detroit, in 1967, only three months after race riots tore the city apart. A rookie judge and African American, he faced controversy immediately when four divisive cases landed on his docket—all of which concerned hidden discriminatory practices deeply woven into housing, education, employment, and police institutions. Keith shook the nation by challenging the status quo and facing off against angry crowds, the KKK, corporate America, and a sitting U.S. President.
In his own words, the Judge recounts the emotional events that shaped his life, how he came to his decisions, and his thoughts about the impact of those rulings then, and now. The film interweaves Keith’s life with those of the people whose lives were changed by his decisions, whether he ruled in their favor or against them.
Now 93, Judge Keith is still an active judge and a living embodiment of a century of US history. He was once an ordinary “colored” janitor whose personal struggles reflected those of a nation first coming to terms with civil rights. He became a fearless and extraordinary judge whose rulings resonate with surprising relevance in a nation still arguing about ‘”which lives matter” almost 50 years later
Director of Photography
Jack Rossiter Munley