'The Birth of a Nation' Director Nate Parker Launches Film School at HBCU in East Texas


Nate Parker is having a wild year, with his upcoming slave revolt drama The Birth of a Nation already having been purchased for a record-breaking $17.5 million at the Sundance Film Festival.

Now he's throwing his weight behind an even more exciting endeavor: On Saturday, Wiley College, a historically black college in Marshall, Texas, announced the launch of the Nate Parker School of Film and Drama. 

The new program will institutionalize this fall.

Wiley College has personal significance for Parker. Though the 36-year-old actor, writer and director grew up in Virginia, his breakthrough film role, The Great Debaters (2007), charted the struggles of Wiley College's debate team in the Jim Crow South during the 1930s.

The Wiley film school will launch this fall, but will host a nine-day summer institute beforehand. Thirty high school and college students will be selected to attend, according to KLTV.

Most historically black colleges and universities were established shortly after the U.S. Civil War as a means of providing educational opportunities that had long been denied to black Americans. The schools received special recognition by the Higher Education Act of 1965, and have since proven to be a vital higher learning resource for black and low-income Americans of all races. Some HBCUs are even majority-white today.


Parker's film program will now bring formal film education to a different segment of the population than most colleges have historically served.

"The hope is that we cover all aspects of filmmaking, from sound, lighting, and cinematography, to just studying film specifically with the cultural component and the history of film," Parker said, according to KLTV. "You control the moving picture, you control the masses. So really getting them rallied around the idea of re-claiming the narrative of America, specifically  through the eyes of people of color."

h/t the Root