The controversy surrounding Nate Parker and his 1999 college rape case – in which he was found not guilty of any crime – continues to haunt the actor.
Now, the American Film Institute has canceled this Friday’s screening of Parker’s film The Birth of a Nation.
During Thursday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Roland Martin and his panel of guests discussed whether Parker’s biopic on Nat Turner will be shelved as a result of the attention on the decade-old rape case from 1999, as well as several of Parker’s former classmates coming out in defense of the filmmaker.
April Reign, Managing Editor of Broadway Black and Editor-at-Large of Nu Tribe Magazine, believes the important story and history of Nat Turner may be lost amongst the rape accusations that have resurfaced.
“Nate Parker and his people need to manage the situation much better than they have been,” said Reign. “Every time Nate Parker speaks, whether it’s on his Facebook posts or subsequent interviews since the initial interview came out in Variety, he’s expressed remorse for not having enough support from the Black community, remorse that these allegations have resurfaced.”
Despite details of rape accusations already being circulated long before Parker’s deal with Fox Searchlight, Reign said, Parker “hasn’t expressed remorse for what actually happened and for the victim in a way that I believe that he should have.”
Several of Parker’s former classmates came to the defense of the embattled filmmaker. In a statement released to TheRoot.com, LaKeisha Wolf, Assata Richards, Lurie Daniel Favors, and Brian Favors said:
“We are both dismayed and disappointed at the gross and blatant misinformation campaign regarding the events that took place during that time period,” the statement reads. “We feel compelled to speak truth to this situation as the media has cherry-picked the most salacious elements while ignoring the actual record.”
Another portion of their statement supporting Parker in the midst of this firestorm states:
“We believed some 17 years ago that Jean Celestin and Nate Parker were innocent of rape and we believe that now.”
Reign, who is also the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, responded to the quotes read on NewsOne Now, saying: “They weren’t there and they weren’t in the room.
“All we have are the court documents, which are what I have read. We have the witness testimony, which I have read, we have the communication between the victim and Nate Parker after the event happened, and so that is what I’m relying my opinion on with respect to this.
“I don’t think it really matters what they say if they weren’t in the room. There are going to be supporters and there are going to be detractors, but you have to land on the facts.”
Watch Roland Martin, April Reign, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the controversy surrounding Nate Parker in the video clip above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty