“Raising Bertie” is an intimate portrait of three African-American boys coming of age in rural North Carolina. Set in Bertie County, a rural African-American-led community in Eastern North Carolina, the documentary takes audiences deep into the emotional lives of three teens — Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell — over six years. This powerful vérité film weaves the young men’s stories together as they try to define their identities while navigating unemployment, institutional racism, violence, first love, fatherhood, and estrangement from family members and mentors. Rural minorities like the youth in Bertie represent some of the nation’s most vulnerable and least visible individuals. Rural child poverty rates continue to rise, and the rates for minorities are nearly three times that of whites. “Raising Bertie” allows viewers to see their world through the teens’ eyes, encouraging recognition of lives and communities too often ignored. Intimate access provides a unique longitudinal observation of the everyday, offering a remarkable lesson in what happens in the lives of young people caught in the complex interplay of generational poverty, educational inequity, and race.
A group of civil-rights activists and city slickers attempted to create a black-owned, black-built multiracial utopia in North Carolina in the 1970s.