‘Raising Bertie’ Reflects On Forgotten Black Teen Boys In Rural America

Raising Bertie gives a voice to the overlooked Black boys living in rural North Carolina.

Raising Bertie, a documentary produced and directed by Margaret Byrne, takes the viewer deep into the emotional lives of three young boys in North Carolina. Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell face a number of challenges over six years as they grow into adults. They hurdle various obstacles including unemployment, institutional racism, violence, first love, fatherhood, death, and estrangement from family members and mentors, all while trying to define their identities.

Often when it comes to documentary film and even narrative films, we are introduced to Black male teens living in urban America. In films like Hoop Dreams and Menace II Society, we often focus on Black people living in inner cities. Those in rural southern areas like Bertie County in Eastern North Carolina are often glanced over or overlooked entirely. This time, Byrne is giving young men from a very different walk of life the opportunity to share their truth. Byrne said in a press release,

“This film has been a labor of love. Over the last seven years, we have maintained close, trusting relationships with each family in the film. I love them and am honored that they trusted me, gave me an unfiltered window into their lives, and believed what we were doing was important. The individuals in this story are representative of their community, and they matter.”

Check out the trailer for yourself below.

Raising Bertie will open in New York City on June 9th at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem followed by an expansion to other markets around the country a week later, including San Francisco, Chicago, and North Carolina.

Raising Bertie will debut on PBS television series POV on August 28th. Click here for more information.