Nate Parker lit up the crowd (and the Internet) with his provocative, challenging and uplifiting conversation with Carlos Watson of OZY Media.
Parker, the writer, producer and star of the upcoming film “Birth of a Nation,” won the Sundance Grand Jury prize in January for his film about Nat Turner, the black preacher who led the only effective, sustained, slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831.
After screening the powerful and moving trailer for the capacity seating crowd at lunch, Parker described being awakened to institutionalized racism and the story of Nat Turner during college, where he said he was “radicalized – because I wanted change NOW.” Of the ongoing conversation about race, criminal justice, and economic empowerment, he says “Our household is only as healthy as our sickest child. We are only as free as our least free citizens.” What Nat Turner understood was that as long as any one person was not equal, he had a challenge to face and lead. “This movie is not about slavery – it’s about liberation,” he said.
On the topic of how we carry these ideas forward to transform public education, Parker gave the crowd a few challenges. First, he urged the crowd to be willing not just to see “one rose in concrete and replant it in soil, but to lift up the concrete and see how many roses are under there.” Second, he challenged teachers to look at the value system that is associated with our curriculum and make sure that it addresses equality and social justice. And finally, he challenged us to have a “riotous disposition for the injustices we see” and be “ambitious and unapologetic” about the change we need to make.
“Birth of a Nation” will open in theaters on October 7. Watch the trailer here.