Remembering Nat Turner

>> Saturday, August 21, 2010

There's a reason why we call this month, "Black August." Birthdays of numerous revolutionaries and revolutionary acts.

But one of the most historically important, yet historically neglect in education happened 179 years ago.

On August 21, 1831, Nat Turner led one of the largest slave insurrections in U.S. history. Called "Prophet Nat" for his deep religious and spiritual convictions, Turner led a band of enslaved Africans on a revolutionary killing spree that terminated the lives of over four dozen white slaveholders and landowning aristocrats.

Although he spared no women or children, he was said to have spared the lives of poor whites, because they thought no better of themselves than Negroes.

"Nat Turner" rap by Reef Tha Lost Cause. Powerful rap song documenting Nat Turner's rebellion (nice blues-influenced beat
I recently completed Kyle Baker's critically acclaimed graphic novel, "Nat Turner." This 200 page, historically based and comic book styled novel was amazing. The artistic depictions of a historically unknown event brought the insurrection to life.

"One thing that's always mystified me about slavery is this:," Baker writes in the preface, "If slaves were selected and bred for size and strength, slavemasters must very quickly have found themselves outnumbered by their bigger, strong slave population."

"How does a weaker minority dominate a physically superior majority?" Baker asks. "In my research I learned that this is accomplished by destroying the slave's mind. More effective than whips and guns was the simple act of outlawing the teaching of slaves to read or to write."


The novel goes on to graphically depict the life of Prophet Nat. The kidnapping of his mother from Africa, his father running away, his desire to read, his interest in the Bible, his revolutionary Moses-like vision, the insurrection and his triumphant, but tragic capture and lynching. Turner was executed in Jerusalem, VA.

There are no words in the book; although, there are passages from the book, "The Confessions of Nat Turner." It is important to note that many Black historians dispute the validity of this text. Yet, Baker is able to use passages to add power to the visuals.

With my time running short today, I am reminded of a few things:
Black Liberation Theology and the 2008 attacks on the Black Church. After recently teaching at Oakland Freedom School, housed this year in a historic Black church in West Oakland, I was reminded of how important that institution is.
White Jesus and Black Congregations. It's 2010 and many Black folks still praise "White Jesus." Although many scholars such as Na'im Akbar and Tony Browder have educated us on the historical inaccuracy of the "White Jesus" image as well as the negative psychological consequences, many congregations still use Bibles with this imagery or have huge 30 feet images on their churches.
Uncle Tom Preachers. Chairman Omali Yeshitela broke that down in his lecture, "If Jesus was a revolutionary, why is your preacher an Uncle Tom."
Finally, The Power and Potency of Righteous Knowledge. Nat Turner would be considered a terrorist today. An enemy combatant. I recall reading one article comparing Turner to a "radical" Jihadist.

Turner's actions led to the creation of some of the most oppressive laws towards enslaved Africans since...Bacon's Rebellion. It was prohibited to educate the enslaved or free and all Black worship services had to have a white minister present.

Is not the slave righteous in his rebellion against the system of oppression? Or as Nat Turner responded to a question of any remorse:

"Was not Christ crucified?"

Rest in Power Nat Turner.



Anonymous,  July 25, 2015 at 6:16 AM  

Fuck you nat turner, you... hideous black bloddy monster!!!

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