The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights sponsored a special screening of the documentary “Walk with Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith” on Oct. 17 at the Wayne State Law School.

The film chronicles the life and work of Judge Damon J. Keith, a Detroit native and WSU graduate who was an influential legal mind during the Civil Rights Movement.

The film chronicles some of the historical cases that Keith presided over, including the desegregation of the Pontiac School District in 1970.

Another landmark case mentioned was Stamps v. Detroit Edison.  In his decision, Keith declared that Detroit Edison used discriminatory practices in hiring and promoting employees.

“Judge Keith was about -- not only landmark decisions and being a wonderful person fighting for civil rights -- but opening doors,” Rachel McDuffie said, WSU law graduate and Damon J. Keith scholar. She said she was honored to attend the screening and to see the future lawyers in the program.

Alexis Smith, a law student, said she didn’t know Keith’s story prior to attending the screening. 

“It was very informative to me and it tells a lot about the history of Detroit and how that transcends to where we are today,” Smith said.

Keith’s nephew, Judge Terrance Keith, also attended the screening. He offered remarks and words of encouragement to students in attendance before the screening and in a discussion afterwards.   

Before the film, he had words of encouragement specifically for the women of the Wayne State Law School, noting that he was impressed with the students he had met.

“I am impressed with the intellect that I have seen and firmly believe that it will take the women of this nation to ensure that we will not have to wait another 50 years to see the pendulum of civil rights swing again,” he said.

The film motivated attendee Yachika Blanks who is pursuing her third degree at WSU. “It’s definitely an influential (story) and I would love to learn more about the law.”

For more information on “Walk with Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith” visit thedkdoc.com.

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