Empowering. That one word can be used to describe the film “Birth of a Nation.” The film features actors such as Nate Parker, who is also the director; Gabrielle Union; Aja Naomi King; and Colman Domingo.The movie originally premiered at Sundance and took home the “Audience Award” and “Grand Jury Prize” as a U.S. drama. After watching the trailer for this film in April, I had to see it. I knew this film would make history, so I jumped at the chance to see the film at an early screening. This movie is an emotional experience that really engages the audience through its heart-wrenching scenes and romantic scenes that Nat Turner shares with Cherry. Parker does a great job of mixing aesthetically pleasing scenes while also capturing the gore and blood of my ancestor’s blood being brutally spilled.
The film follows Nat Turner and his legacy as a slave who preaches to other slaves and starts a rebellion to free his people. Hearing about the history of slaves in the South is one thing but witnessing this movie will illustrate what slaves mentally and physically dealt with in 1831. “Birth of a Nation” also shows the unity and fearlessness of Nat Turner and his people rebelling against their owners. The most moving scene in the film is the courage of outnumbered newly freed slaves armed with knives and sledgehammers battling with slave owners who had guns and cannon balls. Seeing that moment in theaters and realizing what our ancestors had to go through made everyone else’s problem seem small and trivial.
The mere fact that Nat Turner survived the battle and turned himself in on his own terms shows the strength and power he had and what we all are capable of achieving as a whole. The takeaway from the film is that this isn’t a “we hate white people movie” but a look back into the past and showing what black people have endured. We have came from such an unappreciated and unaccepted place. Where we are today is really a blessing that many of us don’t realize. Using our resources in society is vital to our success, which means that education and other opportunities should really be taken seriously to make our ancestors proud.