Pritchett Cotton wanted to restart conversations about conservative principles in his latest film, Runaway Slave. In an exclusive interview with Red Alert Politics, the documentarian shares the intent of the new release, and tells what he learned while creating it.
The film begins with Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech,” and compares the age of slavery and the following era of segregation to the current day, where the government is the new “plantation.”
Runaway Slave stars Reverend C.L. Bryant and features interviews with noted conservatives Herman Cain, the late Andrew Breitbart, and Glenn Beck. Through the efforts of Freedom Works and the Tea Party, the film has premiered in Louisiana, Georgia and Pennsylvania, and will be opening on August 3 in Texas and Missouri.
Bryant shares his story of escaping from the “plantation” on the new “underground railroad” to freedom. He argues that the blacks in America are still not free; they are simply under a new tyranny in the form of entitlement programs.
Cotton said that with this film, “we are breaking down and deconstructing people’s preconceived notions about what they can or cannot talk about with race or politics.”
Even the “gritty” texture in the editing style helps break down the walls people have when it comes to those discussions, he said.
America’s past has made it difficult to talk about race without being called “racist,” he said. Because of this, Americans are forgetting how to discuss things relating to politics in a civil way that does not become “bitter and acrimonious.”
“Thinking it’s impolite or not proper to talk about politics is completely anathema to what it means to be American,” Cotton explained. “So what we need to do is to relearn how to have these conversations.”
One of the first things the film attempts to debunk is the common myth that Democrats have always helped black Americans. Cotton told RAP that he learned while making the film that the Republican Party played a bigger role in civil rights legislation than previously thought, including the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery; the 14th amendment, which gave citizenship to all individuals born on U.S. soil; and the 15th amendment, which allowed voting regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
“Not that Democrats weren’t voting for that,” Cotton added, “but what’s kind of been told is Democrats did all that, when in fact it is actually Republicans that did all that.”
What is rarely mentioned, he said, is that blacks like Frederick Douglas and Booker T. Washington had conservative views. Both spoke out against members of their race becoming dependent on the government.
If restarting the conversation about race and politics is a main goal of the film, the means to the end is promoting conservative principles without towing the party lines.
“Nowadays when you use the term conservative, it still has a bad connotation within the black community,” Cotton said. “I think that independent thinking removed from party thinking is very important.”
The reason for independent thinking is to get away from voting patterns that hurt minorities. The Right and Left wings have separated so much that there is no way to have ideological conversations that do not escalate into shouting matches.
“Both parties are in lock-step to their ideology and they don’t really seem to be bending from that, and it’s really kind of hurting everybody.”
Cotton personally believes in the conservative principles of limited government, personal and fiscal responsibility, but believes they stand on common sense without the party name.
“This stuff just makes sense. As you think about it, you’re like, how could somebody a thousand miles away in Washington know better than Kansas City? You start thinking about things and it just makes sense with how people are, how human nature is, that these ideas work best.”
Though he wouldn’t call himself “conservative,” he might go for “conservative independent.” Regardless of title, however, he says he believes in conservative principles, “principles our country was founded on.”