Around 200 people gathered in a D.C. theater last night to watch the Washington premiere of Runaway Slave, a documentary by African-American Tea Party activist Rev. C. L. Bryant that encourages the black community to rethink its 95 percent voting rate for the Democratic Party.
Drawing on the history and language of slavery, the film argues that the Democratic Party and the welfare state are the new version of the slave-holding plantation, keeping black people mentally enslaved.
In the opening of the documentary, Bryant visits dueling Washington, D.C., rallies. At the Lincoln Memorial, Glenn Beck leads the “Restoring Honor” rally while the Rev. Al Sharpton leads the “Reclaim the Dream” rally in an African-American section of the city.
“Why aren’t these Americans with the others?” Bryant asks. “Why are we divided along racial lines?”
He then sets out to talk to black conservative leaders and everyday African-Americans on the street. He interviews high-profile black conservatives such as Hoover Institute scholar Thomas Sowell, onetime presidential candidate Herman Cain, U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) and pundit Star Parker.
The film is best, however, when it profiles people in the trenches, such as the Oceanside, Calif., school board under fire for ending the school district busing program or Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of the South Central L.A. Tea Party. Believing the problems in the black community are caused by the breakup of the family unit, Peterson runs a program called BOND, training young men to grow into fathers.
“They’ve been deceived that race is their issue,” says Peterson. “But that’s really not it. It’s the breakup of the home.”
Many of the interviewees in the movie trace their politics back to Frederick Douglass, a renowned former slave who became a leader of the newly liberated people. He rejected dependence of any sort for former slaves and asked only that they have the same opportunities to provide for themselves as other people had. The Frederick Douglass Association is a nationwide organization that embraces this heritage.
The film also covers the abortion of African-American babies at disproportionately high rates and speaks with activist Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr.
Bryant does not hesitate to place himself in provocative situations. He stands at the foot of the podium while NAACP speakers denounce the Tea Party as racist. He takes his questions directly to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who refuse to speak with him.
At over two hours long, the movie would have benefited from some trimming, but it still received a standing ovation from the mostly African-American crowd, which included many of the people highlighted in the film. AlfonZo Rachel of PJTV’s Zonation was at the screening and appears in the documentary, as does PJTV’s Bill Whittle.
The film was supported by private donations and FreedomWorks, whose founder, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, was in attendance with his wife, Susan.
Runaway Slave does not yet have a date for distribution, but the producers said they are working on a deal to open in theaters nationwide. If that does not happen, the film will be self-distributed through targeted screenings, DVD and On Demand. The website for the film is www.Runawayslavemovie.com
“This film is the safe house,” motivational speaker Mason Weaver told the crowd. “This is where you bring people who want to be free.”
C.L. Bryant agreed, “There is none so blind as who will not see. If you choose to keep the blinders on, it’s your fault.”
Rebecca Cusey is a Washington, D.C., journalist and movie critic.