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Insight & Perspective: One On One With “The Birth of a Nation” Star Nate Parker

“The Birth of a Nation” will open nationwide on October 7, 2016.

Set against the antebellum South in in Southampton County, Virginia and based on a true story of a literate slave and preacher named Nat Turner, “The Birth of a Nation” shows how Turner goes from preaching to subdue unruly slaves to orchestrating an uprising that leads fellow slaves to freedom.

A powerful, important and rarely-told part of American history–in most education literature the story of Nat Turner is reduced to a single paragraph; many will find that “The Birth of a Nation” is quite poignant during these current times of social injustice against African Americans in America.

jawn-murrayNate Parker stars as Turner. The “Great Debaters” and “Secret Life of Bees” actor wrote, directed and produced this story, which was sold for a record-breaking $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

“The Birth of a Nation” has faced controversy leading into its release date on October 7. Parker’s 17-year-old college rape accusation resurfaced in a campaign to deter people from seeing the film.

Parker and his “The Birth of a Nation” co-writer Jean Celestin were accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student in 1999 during their time at Penn State. Parker was acquitted in 2001; but Celestin was convicted, though he later won an appeal after accusing his first attorney of mishandling the case. Prosecutors declined to retry the case.

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The accused, who court papers indicate was mentally ill and mixed dangerous amounts of alcohol with her depression medicine, became an illegal drug abuser who died by suicide in 2012.

Jawn Murray & Nate Parker

Jawn Murray & Nate Parker

Her family says the rape accusations from 13-years prior caused it, completely disregarding that she had been on mental health meds two years prior to meeting Parker.

When Variety first revisited the case months ago, Parker was defensive and critics felt he showed insensitivity in a Facebook post dismissing its significance.

The 36-year-old, happily married father of four daughters spoke to yours truly during the Merge Summit in Hollywood during a Q&A after a screening I hosted and he took ownership of his mishandling of his social media post, while still standing in his innocence.

You can watch his two-part interview below. In the second video, Parker discusses the backlash he’s received for being in an interracial marriage as well.

Jawn Murray, Robi Reed, Nate Parker, Holly Davis Carter, Tirrell Whittley & Traci Blackwell

Jawn Murray, Robi Reed, Nate Parker, Holly Davis Carter, Tirrell Whittley & Traci Blackwell

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VIDEO PART ONE:

VIDEO PART TWO:

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