Deacons for Defense (2003)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Drama  |  16 February 2003 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.0/10 from 314 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 2 critic

The words "Black Power" bring back memories of names like Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and Eldridge Cleaver, but in Bogalusa, LA a group of harassed Afro-Americans had decided they'd ... See full summary »



(story), (teleplay), 1 more credit »
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Enemy Within (TV Movie 1994)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Colonel Casey discovers what appears to be plans by General Lloyd to use fake military excercises to assist Jack Giddings in his plans to remove President Foster from office. Colonel Casey,... See full summary »

Director: Jonathan Darby
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Sam Waterston, Dana Delany
American Gun (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Seemingly disparate portraits of people -- among them a single mother, a high school principal, and an ace student -- Distinctly American -- all affected by the proliferation of guns in American society.

Director: Aric Avelino
Stars: Marcia Gay Harden, Forest Whitaker, Donald Sutherland
The Marsh (2006)
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

A young beautiful but stressed out children's writer seeks out a holiday in the country but becomes the lead character in a supernatural mystery she must solve to save her life

Director: Jordan Barker
Stars: Gabrielle Anwar, Louis Ferreira, Forest Whitaker
Ripple Effect (2007)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

Fashion designer Amer Atrash, perpetually on the verge of success, is undergoing a personal crisis in both his marriage and his business. Attributing his misfortune to bad karma from a ... See full summary »

Director: Philippe Caland
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Virginia Madsen, Minnie Driver
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A beautiful black gangster's moll flees to Harlem with a trunkload of gold after a shootout, unaware that the rest of the gang, and a few other unsavoury characters, are on her trail. A ... See full summary »

Director: Bill Duke
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, Robin Givens
Light It Up (1999)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A group of teens is bent on improving the run-down conditions of their high-school.

Director: Craig Bolotin
Stars: Usher Raymond, Forest Whitaker, Rosario Dawson
Body Count (1998)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A group of thieves attempt to rob an art gallery, but when plans backfire and one of the men winds up dead, the group head down south, running afoul of the law. Along the way, they meet up ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Patton-Spruill
Stars: David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino, John Leguizamo
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Hitman Dekker is on his last job, out to kill the wife (Jain) of his client, but he starts to waver. The longer he takes to do the job, the more difficult it becomes.

Director: Roy London
Stars: Sherilyn Fenn, Sharon Stone, Forest Whitaker
Feast of All Saints (TV Movie 2001)
Romance | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Set in nineteenth-century New Orleans, the story depicts the gens de couleur libre, or the Free People of Colour, a dazzling yet damned class caught between the world of white privilege and black oppression.

Director: Peter Medak
Stars: Robert Ri'chard, Peter Gallagher, Gloria Reuben
Criminal Justice (TV Movie 1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Denise Moore is robbed and her face is slashed as she is leaving a crack house. At the police station she picks Jessie Williams mug shot and ID's him at a line up. Jessie Williams says he ... See full summary »

Director: Andy Wolk
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Anthony LaPaglia, Rosie Perez
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Four friends steal a valuable statuette for a dangerous black market art dealer, lose it and are forced to play a deadly bluffing game to save their lives.

Director: Paul Rachman
Stars: Olivia Williams, Balthazar Getty, Arly Jover
Bank Robber (1993)
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  

After robbing a bank, the robber hides out from the police in a seedy hotel where he is forced to bribe various tennants for protection as well as their silence which becomes more difficult... See full summary »

Director: Nick Mead
Stars: Patrick Dempsey, Lisa Bonet, Judge Reinhold


Cast overview, first billed only:
Marcus Clay
William Chase
Michael Deane
Reverend 'Rev' Gregory
Gene Mack ...
Paul Benjamin ...
Rose Clay
Serena Lee ...
Lucille Clay
Khafre Armatrading ...
Brooks Clay
Charles Hillibrand
Beau Starr ...
Aaron Walpole ...


The words "Black Power" bring back memories of names like Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, and Eldridge Cleaver, but in Bogalusa, LA a group of harassed Afro-Americans had decided they'd had enough and took up arms to defend themselves and force the white power structure to listen to them. This took place during "Freedom Summer", 1964, right after the Civil Rights Act had become law. Fact based movie stars Forest Whitaker and Ossie Davis, the former as the founder of the Deacons of Defense and Justice (DDJ) and the latter as a peaceful minister trying to prevent the unavoidable violence that will follow. The story revolves around the white-controlled factory which provides 70% of the town's income and employees 40% of its people. Segregation is still clinging on within the factory, with blacks denied the supervisory positions and forced into separate lunchrooms, bathrooms, and drinking fountains. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) has its strongest power in this area and, as the DDJ gets armed ... Written by AzRanger <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violent images and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 February 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A védelem diakónusai  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


See  »

Did You Know?


[Some members want Marcus removed as leader of the Deacons]
Rev. Gregory: I have been living in fear of the Klan all my life. Was bred in me as a child, and it made me less than a man. But all of that has changed because of you. You freed me, son. You woke up something in me, so don't you stop. Don't you dare stop. And tomorrow, I'm gonna be marching with you, and I'm gonna march every day to change what's happening down here. And there ain't gonna be no change in leadership. Ain't gonna be no steppin' down. ...
See more »


Featured in 10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Awesome Film About A Little Known Civil Rights Incident
20 February 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw this excellent film and was so impressed with the performances. Forrest Whittaker, in one of his strongest roles, proves once again he is one of the most under appreciated actors working today. In a town of Louisiana in 1964, at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, he portrays a hard working man who, as a spokesperson for the Black workers in a local paper mill, is simply trying to survive in a United States that refuses to recognize a Black man's truth worth and self dignity. This small town in Louisiana of this time period is very oppressed, racism is overt, the Klu Klux Klan is a dominant force, many of the police are in the Klan, and Whittaker's character wearily knows his place, that he and his brethren will never rise above the oppressive segregation that stifles them and their families each and every day. Two things happen to spur action here. When one of his co-worker friends is beaten by the local white powers that be for simply adding his name on a posted list at work for consideration for a promotion to Supervisor, and 2 white Civil Rights workers (one played impressively by Jonathan Silverman) come to town to help raise consciousness and organize the Black locals for non-violent demonstrations, Whittaker-out of necessity-evolves into a man of purpose (and action). He and his friends form a covert group of armed military man called the "Deacons Of Defense" to protect fellow Blacks from the racist police and covert mill workers who are dead set against any integration. What knocked me out at the core of this film was the uneasy alliance/relationship between Silverman, who, as a young idealist, sincerely wished to promote a non-violent agenda, and Whittaker, who knew the only way to preserve and survive was to arm and fight the white power structure on the same terms as they did. When Silverman (and his Civil Rights coworker) get badly beaten as "nig--r lovers" by the racist locals, and the federal government announces that all forms of segregation must be abolished (per Lyndon B. Johnson's mandate), a final confrontation occurs between the white KKK supremists and the Deacons. The law now reads "local law enforcement officials MUST protect Black citizens". But will they? It is chilling for a TV film to create this level of tension, yet there is a balance in characterization, considering the touchy subject matter. Director Bill Duke shows his flair, style and sensitivity to the historical content. He filmed this explosive film in a quasi-documentary style, using some very disturbing footage, and black and white photography that makes you feel you are there. This material, while little known, was treated with utmost respect and factual data. Ossie Davis is wonderful as the local minister, who grows to finally understand that there is no recourse but to support what the Deacons are doing. And as the previous reviewer well noted, the man just cannot give a bad performance. Supporting roles were well casted and portrayed. But it is Whittaker's show all the way. I feel this film is so relevant today; it needs to be seen by all youth. Actually, everyone should see this movie. It's that moving. A must see film.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Let's hear it for the Second Amendment!! chanman72
Part of Our History gkgk
Discuss Deacons for Defense (2003) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: