Actor Nate Parker made his directorial debut with a biopic about Nat Turner, the slave turned preacher who led the 1831 slave revolt in which his band of “freedom fighters” murdered more than 50 Whites on neighboring plantations in Virginia.
That’s all I’m going to say about the movie.
Most know this story from Black History Month or William Styron’s novel: “The Confessions of Nat Turner.” But I remember when it was mentioned by a high school substitute teacher, a Black woman that incorporated tales like Nat Turner’s into every subject because she felt the public school system didn’t give Black students a sense of dignity, and she called the event the most successful slave revolt in the United States.
But I knew Nat Turner got hung. Her notion of success confused me.
Success is defined as the accomplishment of a goal, and when you hear “slave revolt,” you assume the goal is freedom not a body count of dead Whites. The historical record details Nat Turner’s actions, but killing slave holders doesn’t grant freedom in a slave state. Now suppose Nat Turner’s revolt lasted more than two days and he killed as many Whites as possible until the rest fled the state. (For help, of course)
How were they going to obtain freedom?