AMST’s Gary Ford Produced Award-Winning Documentary

Ph.D. student and soon-to-be alum Gary Ford has produced the award-winning documentary film Justice is a Black Woman: The Life and Work of Constance Baker Motley about the only woman trial lawyer to have served on the Legal Defense and Educational Fund of the NAACP during the 1950s-60s based on his dissertation research for the American Studies Department.

After being brought to the Legal Defense and Educational Fund by Thurgood Marshall, Motley became the lead lawyer in desegregation and trespass prosecution cases throughout the South after 1954 and won nine of ten cases before the U.S. Supreme Court from 1961-1965.  After a term in the New York State Senate, Motley was appointed a justice of the federal southern district court of New York where she became chief justice in 1982.

The film includes interviews with Dr. Maya Angelou; President Bill Clinton; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; Professor Charles Ogletree; Professor Drew Days; Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; Joel Motley, III; Herbert Wright; members of the Little Rock Nine; Dr. Bernard Lafayette and other Freedom Riders; The Honorable Andrew Young; Reverend Wyatt T. Walker; Charlayne Hunter Gault; and other civil rights activists that have been represented by Motley.  Dr. Angelou contributed a poetry reading to the film, and narration was by Juan Williams.

The film debuted on PBS in 2012 and has been honored with the 2012 Best Higher Education Film of Seedling Film Assocation’s Offshoot Film Fest as well as a 2013 Telly Award.  Ford has also been nominated in the category of Best Producer at the St. Tropez International Film and Television Festival of World Cinema, a global industry event to be held in Nice, France in May.