There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation. The first being it’s title as it was originally the same name of a film in the early 1900s that glorified the Ku Klux Klan, then its content in being the biopic of Nat Turner, and finally the past rape allegations surrounding Nate Parker. Nevertheless, this film beautifully, horrifically, and masterfully recalled the Nat Turner Rebellion in August of 1831 which resulted in the deaths of sixty slave holding families and hundreds of free and enslaved Blacks, many who had nothing to do with the rebellion.
The film entails Nat’s entire life, showing he was physically marked for greatness from birth, the brutality his family faced from Whites, and his learning to read. Young Nat grows up to become a preacher, and a cash cow of sorts when a drought and poor resources compel slave masters to cut costs by cutting rations and care to their slaves.
The summer heat and cruel treatment stir rumors of a slave insurrection, prompting the local pastor to ask Nat’s master, Samuel, to have him preach to slaves throughout Southampton County about submitting to and obeying their masters. The cruelty, despair, and pain Nat witnesses soon becomes too much for him to bear. Finally when his wife is brutalized and he suffers at the hands of his own master, visions of freedom and uprising come forth and he is ready to liberate his people! The blood, gore, loss of life, and brutality seen in the rebellion is graphic, but albeit justified.
Birth of a Nation is American History. During a time when race relations are tense at best this film only reminds us that sometimes you actually have to fight for your freedom and control of your destiny. Many have argued the film is not historically accurate and not worth seeing. We beg to differ. Most historical films are intertwined with fiction. Nat Turner’s rebellion and sacrifices will never be forgotten and are an integral part of American History. The battle for freedom and equality has often required bloodshed. Let’s never forget who we are, what we are, and those who came before us. Thanks Nat.
Written By: Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning