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The Dose: ‘Walk with Me’ tells some of the best civil rights stories in history

The Dose: ‘Walk with Me’ tells some of the best civil rights stories in history

January 28
19:21 2017

Many federal judges go through their entire careers without having heard a high-profile case. Damon J. Keith, on the other hand, apparently hit the judicial jackpot in the 1970s.

Keith recounts much of his own story in “Walk with Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith,” directed by Jesse Nesser. It was screened at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Campus Theatre as a part of the Denton Black Film Festival.

Keith can be described as “the greatest judge you’ve never heard of.” While his witty, endearing demeanor may suggest otherwise, this 94-year-old man is responsible for major groundbreaking legislation that continued the snowball effect of the Civil Rights Movement.

“There is not a day that I’m not reminded I’m black,” Keith said in the documentary.

“Walk with Me” takes its viewers through four major cases that took place in 1970s Detroit and the legislation that resulted from Keith’s rulings. Race relations is a major factor in all of them. We see the effect he had on desegregation in public schools, equal opportunity workplaces, housing and police institutions.

Intertwined with these stories, Keith narrates many aspects of his personal life as he experiences segregation and racism. In both his personal and professional lives, it’s evident that Keith exhibits an astounding amount of willpower and determination, as well as an undying love and admiration for others.

He said he understood the disadvantages the color of his skin gave him but chose to fight the injustice and continue the legacy of activists such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, exemplifying incredible resiliency.

Most of the speaking in the film is done by Keith himself during interview settings, with his sense of humor giving the documentary a relatively light tone. The audience gets the chance to hear about Keith from the perspectives of his colleagues and three daughters, as well as Detroit-area citizens who were affected by the laws he put into place.

Keith was fearless in regards to breaking the stigma that surrounded African-American men. While he is clearly proud of the progress he played a major role in advancing, he emphasizes the necessity of education concerning the history of black people in the U.S. He said he hopes his grandchildren, as well as anyone too young to have experienced the Civil Rights Movement first hand, understand what black people had to endure to get where they are today.

“It can’t be separate and be equal,” Keith said.

Regardless of skin color, anyone can take inspiration from Keith. Through “Walk with Me,” the audience is able to see the heartwarming rewards of pursuing what you believe, standing up for what is right and never backing down.

Featured Image: Guests take their seats as credits begin for the screening of “Walk With Me,” one of the 43 films being shown at the Denton Black Film Festival from Friday, Jan. 27 to Sunday, Jan. 29. Katie Jenkins

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Abby Jones

Abby Jones

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