If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of in-justice to another, then, I say, break the law.
Henry David Thoreau
Directing Dissent is a film about John Roemer, teacher and social activist, and his decisions to either live within the law or have a sound basis for civil disobedience.
Roemer's story takes us through heated battles of the Civil Rights Movement and involves dramatic experiences in the fight to desegregate Maryland. As executive director of the Maryland chapter of the ACLU and as a forerunner in the American Friends Service Committee he has been described as a cowboy, an intellectual, and even a ‘gun toting pacifist’.
Set in Baltimore, a city with a turbulent history of charged race relations, the film traces the protagonist’s struggles within the Civil Rights Movement, his embracing of civil disobedience as a means of effecting social change, and the outgrowth of his activism into his role as a high school teacher. His ideology is informed by an unfaltering belief in the principles of non-violence and the power of “a loving disposition”. The film is a character study of a loved and respected rebel as well as an exploration of the philosophy behind civil disobedience and the ways it can be applied today.