A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Preservation of ancestral heritage. Pay homage to family history.
Positive Role Models
Zora Neale Hurston, author of Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, a book about Cudjoe Lewis, the last known survivor of the Clotilda, an illegal U.S. ship that carried enslaved Africans from Dahomey, West Africa to the shores of Mobile, Alabama in 1860. Africatown, Alabama residents Vernetta Henson, Emmett Lewis, and Veda Tunstall are Clotilda ship descendants and seek knowledge about their ancestry. Cleon Jones, the former New York Mets champion left fielder, who's now an Africatown community leader. Master diver Kamau Sadiki, archaeologist Frederik Hiebert, and investigative reporter Ben Raines are part of the Clotilda ship underwater search and recovery team.
Black kids, as well as BIPOC and White young and older adults who are archaeologists, community activists, and folklorists.
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Violence & Scariness
Images and references include the slave trade, Tulsa, Oklahoma race massacre, guns, death, lynchings, Ku Klux Klan, and war.
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Use of the phrase "damn shame."
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Products & Purchases
Apparel with logos and messages, computers, and smartphones.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigarette and pipe smoking and a cup of gin.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Descendant is a documentary about the search for the Clotilda, the last known U.S. ship to illegally transport enslaved Africans to the United States. Images and references include alcohol, smoking, guns, the slave trade, lynchings, death, a massacre, Ku Klux Klan, and war. There's also use of the phrase "damn shame." Positive messages include preserving ancestral heritage and paying homage to family history. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
For older kids and teens, this insightful documentary shares the spirited allegiance of one African American community's activism to preserve its historic cultural heritage. "Many Black people don't know who they are," notes Mabel Dennison, a Clotilda descendant in the film Descendant. "They don't know where they came from. They don't know who their ancestors were. And they would like to know." Finding the slave ship would be "vitally important," says Cleon Jones, a former New York Mets baseball player who's now an Africatown, Alabama community leader. "What the ship does is give the rest of the world the evidence that it took place." And adds Clotilda descendant Vernetta Henson, "In my inner soul, I'm searching for my ancestry, and if I could put my finger on any part of it, I would feel more complete."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Black Lives Matter Movies and TV Shows on Netflix
Documentaries About Black History
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