Fleetwood’s new film, ‘Da Cotton Pickas’

Red carpet film tour screenings Feb. 7, 21, 24 and 27 – all free!

by Nat Turner Jr.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about a “Cotton Pickas” documentary due out Black History Month 2015. And I’m finally sitting down with the director, Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden. Could you tell us about this project entitled “Da Cotton Pickas”?

Bishop-Henry-C.-Williams-Robert-Fleetwood-Bowden-shoot-film-Da-Cotton-Pickas, Fleetwood’s new film, ‘Da Cotton Pickas’, Culture Currents
Bishop Henry C. Williams and Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden take a break from filming “Da Cotton Pickas.”

Fleetwood: “Da Cotton Pickas,” subtitled “The Justification and Journey of a Sharecropping Cotton Picka,” explores the trials and tribulations of Southern cotton plantation workers following the abolition of slavery in America.

Our film uncovers the sharecropping arrangements between cotton pickers and the landowners who regularly denied them their wages, taking you through their journey as they left their homes and even their families to travel west and north.

We meet minister and activist Bishop Henry C. Williams, born in 1934 on a sharecropper’s plantation in Alabama, who has spent decades fighting for reparations. Through his story we learn the sad state of economics awaiting so many migrants when they finally arrived to what had been sold to them as the promised land.

This project confronts the ghost of slavery that still haunts America to this day and the unexpected ways its chains have yet to be broken.

Nat Turner Jr.: How will this project affect the community?

Fleetwood: “Da Cotton Pickas” will offer a unique perspective on race relations and open up a dialogue to foster better understanding of the past and present while focusing on what’s possible for America’s future. It allows for engaging moments that will build a much-needed bridge between the youth and elders of our community.

Nat Turner Jr.: Could you share with us how you got into the film game?

Fleetwood: About a year ago, I did something crazy. I actually listened to the little voice in my head that kept whispering, “It’s time to make a documentary.” The thought found its way to my vocal chords and then slipped out into the world with a frightening and bold proclamation: I am going to make a documentary. Once the words were on the loose, there was no turning back.

After a 20-year career in the music business and self-publishing two national bestselling books, I knew it was time to upgrade my art once again. Now it was time to attack the visual presentation of the entertainment business.

My first film was about a beautiful rose as it grows from the concrete: the story of a girls’ high school basketball team from Oakland entitled “I Just Wanna Ball.” Now I’m back to embark on my second project, and our hope is to give youths the opportunity to visually and spiritually absorb a history which will leave them with an understanding of the sacrifices and the strength of their heritage, instilling appreciation for who the descendants of the cotton pickas are and a driven determination to be successful in the face of great odds.

Young-sharecroppers-or-field-workers, Fleetwood’s new film, ‘Da Cotton Pickas’, Culture Currents Nat Turner Jr.: What are the plans for the documentary?

Fleetwood: The plan is to have this film distributed to television and film festivals so that the stories and factual accounts of the journey of “Da Cotton Pickas” can be brought to the world, and communities receive the awareness, understanding and respect they deserve.

Nat Turner Jr.: If someone wanted to make a donation or contribution to help you out with this project, what would they have to do?

Fleetwood: First of all, I would like to say to everyone reading this, please remember, no donation is too small; we are grateful for every dollar.

Besides helping to preserve the history of our heritage and these incredible people, you also get to be a part of “Da Cotton Pickas” project: Each donation level represents a different contribution to help support this cultural journey, and through each level you are given the opportunity to join our film family! No matter the size, your donation makes a world of difference to our project and the communities we serve.

Please click on or copy and paste the link, http://igg.me/at/dacottonpickas. It will take you to our fundraising campaign. Or just go to indiegogo.com and type in Da Cotton Pickas. Thank you very much. The revolution lives.

Nat Turner Jr.: How do people keep up with you?

Fleetwood: Contact me by email at fleetwood_189@hotmail.com, Instagram fleetwoodsf, Twitter @fleetwood189 or Facebook: Robert Bowden.

Red carpet film tour

“Da Cotton Pickas,” the story of a sharecropper, a short film by Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden, will be screened at the following venues during Black History Month. Tweet Fleetwood at @Fleetwood189 to book the film.

  • Saturday, Feb. 7, 7-9 p.m.: Imagine Affairs Art Lounge, 408 14th St., Oakland
  • Saturday, Feb. 21, 4:30-6 p.m.: La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
  • Tuesday, Feb. 24, 6-8 p.m.: Sam Jordan’s, 4004 Third St., San Francisco
  • Friday, Feb. 27, 7-9 p.m.: City College Southeast Campus, 1800 Oakdale Ave., San Francisco

All events are free. The tour is sponsored by SF Bay View, Oakland Post, M3, Rap Status and the Dream Team.