I Am Not Going to Change 400 Years in Four

Satana Deberry, Durham County’s Black woman D.A., campaigned on sweeping reform. Now in office she’s learning just how tough upsetting the status quo can be.

DA Deberry listening intently to community members at town hall.
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
May 4, 2021
12:19 minutes
Headshot of Angela Tucker.

Angela Tucker

Angela Tucker is a New Orleans-based writer, director and Emmy-nominated producer. Her films include Belly of the Beast (2020, Independent Lens), and All Skinfolk, Ain’t Kinfolk (2020, PBS), a short about a mayoral election in New Orleans. Earlier films include the narrative feature All Styles (2018, Amazon), Black Folk Don’t, a documentary web Show more series that was featured in Time’s “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life”, and (A)sexual (2012, Netflix/Hulu). Show less

Headshot of Kristi Jacobson.

Kristi Jacobson

Kristi Jacobson is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, working as a director and producer of features, series and short-form content. Some of her films include Solitary (2017, HBO), which takes an unprecedented look at life inside a supermax prison and is winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Documentary and Independent Spirit Truer Than Show more Fiction Award nominee; Take Back the Harbor (2018, Discovery); A Place at the Table (2012, Magnolia Pictures/ Participant Media); and "Cartel Bank," an episode of the hit Netflix Original series Dirty Money (2018). Show less

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The Film

When Satana Deberry took the oath of office as district attorney of Durham County, North Carolina, in January 2019, it was a momentous occasion—for the city of Durham and for her, as a Black woman elected to an office historically held by white men. She ran her campaign being vocal about the over-policing of Black and Brown people, promising sweeping reform. Now, more than a year into office, she faces the complicated realities of seeking to reform an unbalanced criminal justice system and support a community ravaged by gun violence. She’s learning that implementing change will be harder than she could have anticipated.