Documentary follows black students coming of age in rural America

Reginald "Junior" Askew

Reginald “Junior” Askew in Raising Bertie ­(Photo: Kartemquin Films/Beti Films)

The School of Public Health and the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts on Thursday will screen “Raising Bertie,” directed by film arts alumna Margaret Byrne (BFA ’01). Byrne will answer questions after the screening.

The screening begins at 6 p.m. in the School of Public Health.

“Raising Bertie” is set in Bertie County, a poor, rural African- American-led community in eastern North Carolina. The film follows Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell as they face a precarious coming of age.

The three youths attend high school at The Hive, an alternative school for at-risk boys. But when budget shortfalls lead the local school board to close The Hive — Junior, Bud, and Dada must return to Bertie High School and a system that once failed them.

This raw and starkly poetic documentary weaves the young men’s stories together as they navigate school, unemployment, violence, first love, fatherhood and estrangement from family members and mentors — all while trying to define their identities.

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