Nate Parker’s Film, Birth of a Nation, premiered this past Monday. He recently sat down and commented on the racism in this country and why he chose that film title.
“This is what I think: that we as artists have to understand that there is pervasive racism in Hollywood and in America, and we can either pick the weed, or we can roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty and get into the root. Our problem, what we’re dealing with right now, is foundational. The business of Hollywood was built on the propaganda of D.W. Griffith and [1915’s] The Birth of a Nation. It was the very first feature film that played in the White House and it was an enormous success, yet it said one thing: Embrace white supremacy, and you will survive. That was his message. And America embraced it.
It was critical that I use this title. I wanted to put a spotlight on this film — what it did to America, what it did to our film industry, what it did to people of color with respect for domestic terrorism. There’s blood on that title, so I wanted to repurpose it. From now on, The Birth of a Nation is attached to Nat Turner, one of the bravest revolutionaries this country has ever seen.”
Post By @KingKwajo
On this day in 1831 the Virginian slave Nat Turner began the deadliest slave rebellion the United States had ever seen, which resulted in the deaths of 55 whites. Turner, a slave preacher, had come to believe that God intended for him to lead a black uprising against the injustice of slavery. In the evening of August 21st 1831, Turner and his co-conspirators met in the woods to make their plans and early the next morning began the rebellion by killing Turner’s master’s family. Turner and his men, who soon numbered over 80, then went from house to house assaulting the white inhabitants. Eventually a local militia, and then federal and state troops, confronted the rebels and dispersed the group. Turner himself initially evaded capture but was captured on October 30th. Subsequently Turner, along with over fifty other rebels, was executed. However the retribution for Nat Turner’s rebellion did not end there. The uprising sent shockwaves across the South, and while full scale rebellion such as Turner’s was rare in the Deep South due to the rigid enforcement of the slave system, caused widespread fear of another rebellion. In the ensuing hysteria over 200 innocent black slaves were killed by white mobs. Turner’s rebellion came close to ending slavery in Virginia, as in its wake the state legislature considered abolishing the ‘peculiar institution’. However the measure was voted down and instead the state decided to increase plantation discipline and limit slaves’ autonomy even further by banning them from acting as preachers and learning to read. Similar measures were adopted across the slave-holding South and thus Nat Turner’s rebellion increased the South’s commitment to slavery, despite undermining the pro-slavery argument that it was a benevolent system and slaves were content. Turner has left behind a complicated legacy, with some seeing him as an African-American hero and others as a religious fanatic and villain; his memory raises the eternal question of whether violence is justified to bring about necessary change.
On today in 1831 Nat Turner led a violent slave rebellion that resulted in the deaths of at least 55 people, the most of any other slave rebellion leading up to the Civil War.
“And my father and mother strengthened me in this my first impression, saying in my presence, I was intended for some great purpose, which they had always thought from certain marks on my head and breast.” – Nat Turner