Nate Parker to deliver annual lecture hosted by Stanford's African & African American Studies program

April 20 event is free and open to the public.

Jennifer Cooper Nate Parker

Nate Parker will speak April 20 at Stanford on "Black Lives, Freedom Dreams, and Our Collective Racial Future."

On Wednesday, April 20, Stanford University's African & African American Studies (AAAS) program will host its annual St. Clair Drake Memorial Lecture featuring actor, filmmaker and humanitarian Nate Parker, whose film of The Birth of a Nation, will be released in October 2016.

The event, which will include a lecture and panel discussion, is titled "Black Lives, Freedom Dreams, and Our Collective Racial Future."

In line with AAAS's focus on contemporary racial justice movements in the United States, Parker will discuss The Birth of a Nation and its alignment with a history of arts activism. The film, which Parker produced, wrote, directed and stars in, won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize, (Dramatic) and the Audience Award, (U.S., Dramatic) at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Based on true events, the film is the story of Nat Turner, an American-born slave who led a successful slave rebellion in 1831. Parker also will speak to the power of film and theater in reshaping historical narratives, complicating identities and social perceptions, and inciting modern-day movements for social justice.

The program is cosponsored by OpenXChange, The Institute for Diversity in the Arts, and Stanford Speaker's Bureau. 

Nate Parker first received critical attention for his starring role in The Weinstein Company's The Great Debaters opposite director/actor Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. Following the film, Parker received an honorary doctorate from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas—the school upon which the true story The Great Debaters was based. Working alongside renowned actors and directors, Parker has also starred in George Lucas' Red Tails and Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer, as well as Arbitrage, The Secret Life of Bees, Pride, Non-Stop, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, About Alex, and Tunnel Rats.

Most recently, Parker played the lead opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Gina Prince Bythewood's critically acclaimed Beyond the Lights. While portraying a police officer in Beyond the Lights, Parker directed an original short film entitled #AmeriCAN, critiquing the state of police relations in urban black communities.

Following his lecture, Parker will be joined on stage by Stanford scholars H. Samy Alim, AAAS's director and a professor in the Graduate School of Education; Harry J. Elam Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education and a professor of theater and performance studies, and  Allyson Hobbs, a professor of history. The panel also will include Robin D.G. Kelley a professor of American history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

This lecture and discussion are free and open to the public. It will be held at CEMEX Auditorium, 655 Knight Way within Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. and the program will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m.

The St. Clair Drake Lectures are dedicated to the memory of Professor St. Clair Drake, renowned professor of sociology and anthropology, an early researcher on black Americans and the founding director of the Program in African & African American Studies at Stanford University. The lectures began in 2003 as a way to evoke the ethos of St. Clair Drake within the academic community at Stanford. Honored lecturers have included the late Manning Marable, Angela Davis, Harry Belafonte, Charles Ogletree, Jennifer Eberhardt and Valerie Jarrett, among others.