In honor of the anniversary of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion the Wingnut Anarchist Collective will be screening the movie Nat Turner A Troublesome Property on Sunday August 21st at 7pm.

“This film is magnificent. Required viewing by all who are deeply concerned about race relations in Amereica.” – Cornel West

The movie is a critical look at the legacy and representations of Nat Turner and ‘historical’ interpretations of him and the slave rebellion of 1931. The movie is only an hour long, and there will be discussion afterwards. The Wingnut is a sober, all ages space.  2005 Barton Avenue or call 804 303 5449 for more information.

For folks who don’t know, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia on August 21, 1831 that resulted in 56 deaths of white people. Turner was smart and also very religious. He believed he was destined to do something, and that signs pointed towards a rebellion against slavery.

Turner started with a few fellow slaves, and then went from house to house freeing slaves and killing white people. Eventually around 70 slaves and freed blacks were involved. They actually avoided attacking some homes of poor white people, thinking they had more in common with the blacks.

Turner and 56 other blacks supposedly involved were then later murdered by the state. An additional 200 or so blacks were murdered across the state as well, by mobs and militias.

October 2nd, 1800- November 11, 1831

Nat Turner was born the year of Gabriel’s attempted revolt. 31 years after Gabriel, the situation for black people in America had not changed. Abolitionists and others did not take the risks necessary to end slavery, the movement was not strong enough.

About the Film:
Nat Turner’s slave rebellion is a watershed event in America’s long and troubled history of slavery and racial conflict. Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property tells the story of that violent confrontation and of the ways that story has been continuously re-told during the years since 1831. It is a film about a critical moment in American history and of the multiple ways in which that moment has since been remembered. Nat Turner was a “troublesome property” for his master and he has remained a “troublesome property” for the historians, novelists, dramatists, artists and many others who have struggled to understand him.

To emphasize the fictive component of historical reconstruction, the film adopts an innovative structure: interspersing documentary footage and interviews with dramatizations of different versions of the story, using a new actor to represent Nat Turner in each version. As literary critic Henry Louis Gates explains in the film, “There is no Nat Turner to recover; you have to create the man and his voice.” The filmmakers chronicle an extraordinary history of attempts to create and to recreate the man. Such a complex film required a unique collaboration between MacArthur Genius Award feature director Charles Burnett, acclaimed historian of slavery Kenneth S. Greenberg and award-winning documentary producer Frank Christopher.

The earliest source, The Confessions of Nat Turner, was not written by Nat Turner but was assembled out of a series of jail cell interviews by white Virginia lawyer Thomas R. Gray. The man portrayed in this first telling of the Nat Turner story clearly saw himself as a prophet, steeped in the traditions of apocalyptic Christianity. However, this first confession of Nat Turner raised the question of whether the slave rebel was an inspired and brilliant religious leader in search of freedom for his people, or a deluded fanatic leading slaves to their doom. Viewers watch this same controversy play itself out over and over again during next 170 years of our nation’s history.

Historians Eugene Genovese and Herbert Aptheker discuss how the figure of Nat Turner was transformed as a metaphor whenever racial tensions flared. Religious scholar Vincent Harding and legal scholar Martha Minnow reflect on our nation’s attitudes towards violence. Alvin Poussaint and Ossie Davis recall how Nat Turner became a hero in the Black community. And when William Styron published his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner – and invented a sexually charged relationship between Turner and a white teenaged girl he later killed – it unleashed one of the most bitter intellectual race battles of the 1960s. Today, Nat Turner’s slave rebellion continues to raise new questions about the nature of terrorism and other forms of violent resistance to oppression.

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