Beginning one year before the fatal police shooting of a black teenager in nearby Ferguson, “For Ahkeem” is the coming-of-age story of Daje Shelton, a black 17-year-old girl in North St. Louis. She fights for her future as she is placed in an alternative high school and navigates the marginalized neighborhoods, biased criminal-justice policies, and economic devastation that have set up many black youth like her to fail. After she is expelled from her public high school, juvenile-court Judge Jimmie Edwards sends Daje to the court-supervised Innovative Concept Academy, which offers her one last chance to earn a diploma. Over two years, Daje struggles to maintain focus in school, attends the funerals of friends killed around her, falls in love with a classmate named Antonio, and navigates a loving-but-tumultuous relationship with her mother. As Antonio is drawn into the criminal-justice system and as events in Ferguson — just four miles from her home — seize the national spotlight, Daje learns she is pregnant and must contend with the reality of raising a young black boy.
Film CategoryLeon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight Mean Streets: Viewing the Divided City Through the Lens of Film and Television Race in America: The Black Experience Show-Me Cinema
SubjectAfrican American Education Family Issues Policing/Criminal Justice School Youth
Mike Isaacson & Joe Ortmeyer