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Ahead of the release of Nate Parker‘s critically acclaimed biopic, The Birth of a Nation, a decades-old rape case has resurfaced, resulting in a major controversy for the filmmaker.

As a result of the allegations, many are calling for a boycott of the film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and was purchased by Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million.

On Thursday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Roland Martin and his panel of guests discussed the controversy surrounding Parker, the 1999 rape case, the upcoming release of this film, and if African-Americans should support it amid the scandal.

NewsOne Now panelist Avis Jones-DeWeever said, “I am shocked, I was hurt, I was devastated and disappointed because I think this piece of art needs to be out there.

“I think that the world needs to know about Nat Turner, needs to know about this rebellion, and I was greatly looking forward to this movie.”

Jones-DeWeever continued, “I’m not at the point where I can say people don’t need to support it per se, because I think the world needs to know that history. I think we need to be enlightened in that way.

We need to understand and have real discussions in this country about rape culture and what that means and have real discussions with our sons about consent and what that does and doesn’t mean.”

Martin asked NewsOne Now panelist Dr. Cleo Manago about Parker’s initial response to the accusations resurfacing and said the filmmaker was “inconsiderate regarding the violation of rape.”

Despite his unfavorable view of Parker’s response, Manago believes The Birth Of A Nation needs to be seen because “People need to know the story of Nat Turner.”

According to Manago, if individuals choose to boycott the film, it will not impact Parker’s financial status. The movie has already been made and Parker has already been paid by Fox Searchlight.

Manago said he found it “peculiar” the rape case resurfaced at this particular time: “If you pull back the curtains on a lot of people in Hollywood who are making films, including people like Woody Allen who married and raped his own step-daughter, Roman Polanski … you’ll find all kinds of stuff.

“Hollywood, in terms of the people that make the films, are full of flawed people.

“The point I want to make here is that we got to see this film about Nat Turner, and do not allow this interesting dilemma that has come up right before the film is released to get in the way of the importance of knowing this man’s life and who he was in this country.”

Watch Roland Martin and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the controversy surrounding Nate Parker and his upcoming film, The Birth Of A Nation, in the video clip above.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

SEE ALSO:

‘Birth Of A Nation’ Poster Defaced To Read ‘Rapist?’

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