Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton is questioning why filmmaker Nate Parker is under intense public scrutiny for rape charges leveled against him 17 years ago. He believes the rehashing smacks of a possible right-wing conspiracy to keep the public from seeing his film The Birth of a Nation, reports The New York Daily News.
“If a person is accused of a crime and is acquitted, are we now saying they should not be considered for an Oscar?” he asked.
Parker produced, directed, and stars in the upcoming much talked about film, a drama that centers around the 1811 slave rebellion in Virginia led by Nat Turner. The film is Parker’s directorial debut and most critically acclaimed work.
Recently, it was revealed that Parker and his then-college roommate-turned-writing-partner, Jean Celestin, were accused of raping an 18-year-old woman while she was intoxicated and unconscious during their tenure as students at Penn State University.
Parker was acquitted of the crime; Celestin’s initial conviction for sexual assault was overturned on appeal because the victim, who eventually committed suicide, could not bring herself to testify again.
Now that the film has received positive reviews as a groundbreaking piece of historical cinema at the Sundance Film Festival and is being eyed as a possible Oscar favorite, Sharpton believes it is more than a coincidence that Parker’s past got dredged up.
He is raising more than a brow regarding the Parker firestorm, telling the News, “I want answers. I’m suspicious. The timing and the standard [are] my concern[s.]”
SOURCE: The New York Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty