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Deacons for Defense

46 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Nov 18, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

They were defiant. They were determined. They were not going down without a fight. With the whole world watching, these men stood up to the Ku Klux Klan and changed their lives, their town, and their country forever . . . the moving, inspirational,

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Forest Whitaker, Chris Britton, Jonathan Silverman, Ossie Davis, Gene Mack
  • Directors: Bill Duke
  • Writers: Frank Military, Michael D'Antonio, Richard Wesley
  • Producers: Mark Anthony Little, Nick Grillo, Robert Rehme
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Showtime Ent.
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000C2IR6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,385 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Deacons for Defense" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on June 26, 2004
Format: DVD
Excellent movie! I first heard about the Deacons of Defense decades ago from the book "Negroes with Guns." The story was later promulgated by the Jews for the Preservation of Gun Ownership (whatever happened to those guys?)
I can't believe there are those who are calling the movie full of unbelievable caricatures-- this is how things were! The Klan was not always the pathetic buffoons you see on Jerry Springer. A million Klansmen once marched in the 20 Century on DC as if it were just an Easter Parade. Politicians once proudly announced their Klan affiliation. Their numbers were large, their deeds hideous, their tendrils all throughout the government and so-called protectors. This is NOT ancient history; I remember white's only signs myself. They didn't all just disappear overnight.
These brave men armed themselves for their own protection as well as their children and the white men who worked with them to bring about the civil rights they deserved. Yes, that's right black men and children were flailed, hung, and beaten as well as denied civil rights. White men and women who helped them often faced similar consequences. Forrest Whittaker brings another good performance as his character breaks through the learned helplessness that comes from oppression.
The deeper story is the same as in such stories as the Warsaw Uprising and Escape from Sobibor. When a group is dehumanized on racial, class, or economic grounds, the "good" people in the majority will grind them as much as possible. That is, until the underclass finds the wherewithal for real strength by some means. Armed self-defense is one way.
They could have gone overboard; the movie showed that they had access to military weapons but they held themselves to a defense standard.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. G Storey on March 2, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a simplistic account of how the Deacons for Defense came about. Only watching the movie, though, gives the impression that the Deacons were a local movement that never gained much traction outside of a single town in Louisiana. In reality, it was a multi-state movement and was actually started before the semi-fictionalized account in the movie.

The book of the same name is a more comprehensive history of the armed civil rights struggle and contains the real life story on which the movie was based, but the movie changes the names of everyone and thing, except for the town in which it took place in. And while the movie touches on the black leadership acquiescing to racist policies in exchange for marginal power, it does not fully explore that shameful example of Ben Francklin's adage "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither. He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security."

A better movie candidate would have been the black high school teacher who was under threat of losing his job and the students started a boycott that spread and gained national attention.

Forest Whitaker has been one of my favorite actors since I saw him in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but he is out of character as the submissive black laborer at the paper plant. He always brings an intensity to his various roles, and that showed in this movie and did not fit with the initial portrayal of the character. If the movie had staying closer to the person his role was based on, a hustler and loner who was not cowed by society, that intensity would have been a better fit.

It is a good movie, but it could have been better.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Preston Covey on June 6, 2004
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
The "Deacons for Defense" video alerts us to one chapter in the inexcusably ignored history of the armed civil rights movement. On the principled rationale and history of the *armed* civil rights movement (forever in the politically correct shadow of the history of non-violent resistance and protest), both enthusiasts and critics of "Deacons for Defense" should read the following:
Karl R. Popper, "Utopia and Violence" (in Popper's classic Conjectures and Refutations, Harper & Row, 1965): "[W]e must not allow the distinction between attack and defense to become blurred. We must insist upon this distinction, and support and develop social institutions ... whose function it is to discriminate between aggression and resistance to aggression [aka self-defense, the most historic, universal and fundamental of moral and legal rights]."
Robert F. Williams, Negroes With Guns (text-critical edition published by Wayne State University Press, 1998). See esp.: Chpt 1 "Self-Defense Prevents Bloodshed," Chpt 5 "Self-Defense Prevents a Progrom," Chpt 7 "Self-Defense: An American Tradition."
Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. Diamond, "The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration" (Georgetown Law Journal, December 1991, and in Cottrol [editor] Gun Control & the Constitution, 1994).
Nicholas J. Johnson, "Beyond the Second Amendment: An Individal Right to Arms Viewed Through the Ninth Amendment" (Rutgers Law Journal, Fall 1992).
Preston K. Covey, "Self-Defense - Legal Issues" and "Self-Defense - Reasons for Gun Use" (Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law, Gregg Lee Carter [editor].)
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