by Malik Glaspie
Norfolk State’s Brown Theater had a full audience Tuesday, Sept. 27, to hear a lecture from Nate Parker.
Nate Parker is an actor, writer, director, producer, and musical performer who has played a part in numerous films such as The Great Debaters, Non-Stop, Red Tails, and Beyond the Lights. Parker is also a native of Hampton Roads, Virginia, where he attended Great Bridge High School; he moved out of state to attend the University of Oklahoma.
Currently, Nate Parker has been working on a film that depicts the life and notorious slave revolt of Nat Turner. “I’m home” he announced as he spoke to the crowd about the film, growing up in the Hampton Roads area, and the present state of the African American community.
“When I had the potential to become a filmmaker, I knew his story was something I could pull everything I wanted into,” Parker said.
Parker stated numerous times how Nat Turner and his story of resistance inspired him to write the film. He admitted that he didn’t even know who Nat Turner was until the age of 14, but encouraged the crowd to do their research of historical Black figures.
“Resistance is essential in the fight for freedom,” Parker said, while noting he was not advocating for violence.
The film is set in the 1831 antebellum south; however, Parker discussed how he wrote the film with 2016 in mind.
“People wonder why we have a fractured relationship with law enforcement,” Parker said as he previously stated that the first police officers were Ku Klux Klan members.
Parker then jumped into present day issues and explained how African Americans with an education can make a difference in our society.
“The last 72 hours in this country have been a tough 72 hours, optically from what we see on the news. But everyone in this room knows that is our everyday….all the leadership in this room, people at this HBCU that’s getting an education that most of America isn’t even getting. Most of America can’t even contribute to the conversations of our solutions because they’re not in the proper context. We ask ourselves in this room what can we do? We have to assert ourselves in a way that we are a part of the solution, not the problem,” Parker said.
He encouraged students everywhere to take more courses in African American studies and that no matter what your studies are in school, you can help be a part of the solution.
“Every single person in here is going to go on to do great things, but those great things–there has to be some type of connection with the community you come from,” Parker said.
Parker later, after the lecture, stood with the crowd to take pictures and sign autographs. The film Birth of a Nation won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prizes earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and premiered Sept. 27 at various theaters.