The documentary tells the true story of a Black teenager from New Orleans who is wrongfully arrested for breaking up a fight in 1966

By Salina Tsegai
April 30, 2021 12:00 PM
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John Legend's latest project is a timely documentary about an injustice that challenged severe flaws in the United States' legal system.

A Crime on the Bayou, written and directed by Nancy Buirski and executive produced by Legend, 42, tells the true story of Gary Duncan, a Black teenager from Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana who gets arrested one night after trying to break up a fight between white and Black teenagers outside of a newly integrated school. His offense? He laid his hand on a white boy's arm while trying to deescalate the brawl. 

"They had the ferry running just to take me across the river," Duncan recalls in the PEOPLE exclusive trailer.

a crime in the bayou
Credit: Shout! Factory/ Youtube

With the help of Richard Sobol, a Jewish attorney from D.C., Duncan bravely stands up to a legal system powered by democratic district attorney and staunch segregationist Leander Perez Sr., to challenge his unfair arrest. 

Although Sobol didn't have a license to practice law in the state of Louisiana, he and other attorneys aligned with the civil rights movement continued to fight alongside Duncan until their case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Duncan's case became one that fought for his and every American's right to a fair trial.

The documentary was acquired by Shout! Studios in April, and is a production of Augusta Films in association with Get Lifted Film Co. and Artemis Rising Foundation.

"Get Lifted Film Co. is thrilled to have helped bring A CRIME ON THE BAYOU by the acclaimed storyteller Nancy Buirski to the big screen," executive producers Legend, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorius and Austyn Biggers said in a statement. 

The statement continues, "This inspiring true story shares important lessons that are as relevant today as they were in 1966, reminding us just how far we have to go to dismantle institutional racism and injustice. It is our hope that the film contributes to the national conversations needed to make meaningful change."

Duncan stars in the documentary alongside Sobol, who died on March 24, 2020 at the age of 82.

The film also features a new original song, "My Path" written and performed by Raphael Saadiq, who was nominated for Best Original Song - Motion Picture at this year's Golden Globe Awards for "Tigress & Tweed" from Hulu's The United States Vs. Billie Holiday

A Crime on the Bayou premieres in select theaters nationwide on June 18, 2021.