"It is evil to keep these people in bondage, yet they cannot be freed. They must be educated! To free these people without education and with the prejudice that presently exists against them would be a ghastly crime."
- William Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner
Nat Turner was born into slavery on October 2, 1800 on a Southampton County plantation. When he became a preacher, he claimed he had been chosen by God to lead slaves from bondage. On August 21, 1831, he led a violent insurrection.
Turner's image has changed and evolved over the years. He has emerged as a hero, a religious fanatic and a villain. Turner became an important icon to the 1960s black power movement as an example of an African American standing up against white oppression.
Historian Scot French told The New York Times, "To accept Nat Turner and place him within the pantheon of American revolutionary heroes is to sanction violence as a means of social change. He has a kind of radical consciousness that to this day troubles advocates of a racially reconciled society. The story lives because it's relevant today to questions of how to organize for change."
Nat Turner's legacy will forever live on for this reason and many others. Even today, as many scholars, educators, politicians and individuals debate the discussion of the best means to organize change, the question of whether violence as a means of social change is acceptable, comes up. Throughout history we have seen it and continue to see it today. As we continue these debates and discussions, let's not forget Nat Turner and the impact he has had on American history, and our history.
The year 1831 signifies a day African American slaves said no more to their oppressors. It started a revolution that has shaped and changed the course of our history.
Nat Turner has ALWAYS been an "unsung" hero of mine! Now it's our time to rise up and be a part of the change. Let's be heard & take a stand.
#TheBirthofaNation opens in theaters October 7
Today we honor this legacy and the birth of a revolutionary by unveiling the limited edition Nat Turner "1831" hat. Purchase it alone or as part of our Black August Collection.