David Oyelowo Plays Doctor Prosecuted For Defending Home Against White Mob

By Sameer Rao May 09, 2017

Actor David Oyelowo ("Selma") returns to the historical drama genre for his next role as a doctor tried for murder after defending his Detroit home against a White mob in 1925.

The Hollywood Reporter (THR) reported yesterday (May 8) that the British thespian will star as Dr. Ossian Sweet in "Arc of Justice," a film based on historian Kevin Boyle’s 2004 book, "Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age." As that book describes, the Florida-born doctor purchased a home in a predominantly White, working-class neighborhood during the Great Migration, which saw Black Southerners moving to Northern industrial centers. Redlining and White hostility prevented most African Americans from owning homes, and Sweet enlisted several friends and family members to protect his house and family from anticipated violence. When a neighborhood mob attacked the house, one of the defenders fired shots and accidentally killed a White man. The NAACP funded Sweet and his backers’ defense during the highly publicized murder trial, which ended with full acquittal by an all-White jury.

The film will be directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padihla ("Narcos"). Variety adds that Russell Crowe will play Sweet’s defense attorney, Clarence Darrow. Neither Variety nor THR announced an anticipated release date for the film.