WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In 1831, Nat Turner, an African-American slave and preacher, led a bloody slave revolt in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner is most remembered as a killer, rather than a freedom fighter driven by faith, but in RISE UP: THE LEGACY OF NAT TURNER, viewers will get a different perspective into his notorious legacy that extends beyond this rebellion. From executive producer Nate Parker, the one-hour documentary premieres on Friday, Oct. 7, at 10/9c on National Geographic Channel, coinciding with the Fox Searchlight Pictures theatrical release of critically acclaimed Sundance Jury and Audience Awards winner “The Birth of a Nation,” which is directed by Parker and is the dramatic story of this historic liberation movement.
Host Roger Guenveur Smith (“The Birth of a Nation,” “Dope,” “American Gangster,” “Chiraq”) will take viewers on a journey throughout Southampton County to explore where Turner lived, fought and died. Along the way, Smith meets with academics and descendants to peel back the layers of one of the most misunderstood Americans in history, including Kenneth Morris, Jr. (third-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass), Evelyn Sykes Hawkins (Turner descendant), Vivian Claude Lucas (Turner descendant), archaeologist Dr. Kelley Fanto Deetz, Dr. Alfred Brophy (professor, history and law, University of North Carolina) and Dr. Sarah Roth (associate professor, history, Widener University).
“The story of Nat Turner is pivotal in the narrative of our country,” said Tim Pastore, president, original programming and production, National Geographic Channel. “His story is essential to discussions on historical and contemporary racial tensions, and we are honored to be able to share the importance of his legacy with our viewers.”
Turner’s story has been masked throughout history, and the reasons sit firmly in the community of Southampton County. After leading one of the most violent rebellions of the time, Turner was subsequently arrested and hanged two months later. He was never given a proper burial, but for the first time ever scholars and archaeologists believe they may have discovered the grave site of Nat Turner and his rebel comrades.
“Nat Turner left a lasting legacy that continues to resonate with Americans today,” said Nate Parker, executive producer. “Working on this documentary allowed us to give the public the background knowledge of who Turner was and why his rebellion has left such a lasting impact on our country.”
The documentary will outline the history of enslaved people in Virginia and the culture Turner was born into, lived in and revolted against. It will give an in-depth timeline of the events that led to the insurrection, mapping the entire event and laying out a series of recollections of the violent rebellion, ultimately leading into the Civil War. In addition, Smith will delve into how this rebellion and Turner’s legacy continue to resonate and inform ideas about civil rights in our country, as well as discuss ways in which African-Americans continue to face oppression.
“In my mind, Nat Turner is an American revolutionary, but he’s never been embraced as such, and my question is why,” said Smith. “What happened in Southampton County continues to reverberate in America because of an ongoing debate as to how exactly we remember those among us who paid the ultimate price so that this country might be whole.”
RISE UP: THE LEGACY OF NAT TURNER is produced for National Geographic Channel by National Geographic Studios and Tiny Giant. For Studios, executive producers are Bengt Anderson, Jeff Hasler and Brian Lovett. For Tiny Giant, executive producer is Nate Parker and Lia Buman. For National Geographic Channel, Tim Pastore is president, original programming and production.
About National Geographic Channels
The National Geographic Channels (The Channels) form the television and production arm of National Geographic Partners, a joint venture between 21st Century Fox and the National Geographic Society. As a global leader in premium science, adventure and exploration programming, the Channels include: National Geographic Channel (NGC), Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo People and Nat Geo MUNDO. Additionally, the Channels also run the in-house television production unit, National Geographic Studios. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation and education with entertaining, innovative programming from A-level talent around the world, and with profits that help support the society’s mission. Globally, NGC is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 45 languages, and Nat Geo WILD is available in 131 countries and 38 languages. National Geographic Partners is also a leader in social media, with a fan base of 250 million people across all of its social pages. NGC contributes over 55 million social media fans globally on Facebook alone. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com and www.natgeowild.com.
About The Birth of a Nation
Set against the antebellum South and based on a true story, THE BIRTH OF A NATION follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer) accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself, his wife Cherry (Aja Naomi King), and fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.
THE BIRTH OF A NATION is directed by Nate Parker from his own screenplay and story by Parker and Jean McGianni Celestin. Produced by Nate Parker, Kevin Turen, Jason Michael Berman, Aaron L. Gilbert, and Preston L. Holmes, the film stars Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Mark Boone Jr., Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Dwight Henry, Aja Naomi King, Esther Scott, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Gabrielle Union, with Penelope Ann Miller and Jackie Earle Haley. THE BIRTH OF THE NATION opens nationwide on October 7, 2016.