POV: Raising Bertie

About This Episode


In the quietly powerful Raising Bertie, three black boys in North Carolina's rural Bertie County come of age right before our eyes. Filmed over six years, they deal with the same issues that every boy approaching the leap to manhood faces -- and others triggered by their specific and often precarious conditions. As the quote from James Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son that opens the film puts it, "I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also so much more than that. So are we all."

The film opens windows into three young men's lives: Reginald "Junior" Askew, a charismatic young man looking for direction; Davonte "Dada" Harrell, a quiet teen who likes to cut hair and care for his nephew; and David "Bud" Perry, who has a quick-temper and takes pride in being a sharp dresser. The audience is drawn into their small-town world as Raising Bertie weaves between their stories. On one level, the film addresses universal themes of family, adolescent angst and the search for identity, and on another it tackles the particular realities faced by rural minorities, including systemic racism, educational inequality, poverty and unemployment.

As the cameras roll, these boys become men with responsibilities and a desire to do better than their fathers. Their indomitable spirit and sheer will to rise above their circumstances sustain them.