Released November 18, 2003
Inspired by a true story, this made-for-cable drama is set in 1965, not long after passage of the Civil Rights Act. To the African-American citizens of Bogalusa, LA, however, it is “business as usual”; they are still treated like third-class citizens, their fundamental rights as human beings persistently trampled by the white power structure, in general, and the local branch of the KKK, in particular.
Like many of the local black men, war veteran Marcus (Forest Whitaker) works in the town’s mill for meager wages, and must endure the ongoing humiliation meted out by his white supervisors. But when he is beaten up by the police for the “outrage” of trying to defend his own daughter, Marcus is pushed too far. Encouraged by an idealistic white Northerner (Jonathan Silverman), Marcus organizes the Deacons, an all-black defense group dedicated to patrolling the black section of town and protecting its residents from the more violent aspects of “white backlash.” (From the New York Times)
The Boston Herald
“This superb Showtime original docudrama is based on a little-told story of the civil rights movement: a group of churchgoing black men in Bogalusa, LA in the 1960s who stood up to the Ku Klux Klan by taking the nonviolent resistance movement of Martin Luther King Jr. and standing it on its ear…Deacons deserves credit not only for resurrecting unjustly buried history but also for presenting it maturely rather than as some overheated action apocalypse.”
The Palm Beach Post
“That Deacons for Defense tells a story few people know – many real-life Deacons in fact have never publicly admitted to being members – makes Showtime’s film worth your time.”