NAT TURNER: A Troublesome Property

Slave Rebellions

Talkback

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05/13/2010
Kelly S.
Atlanta, GA

I am a decendent of Catherine Whitehead. Nat Turner murded her with an axe in front of her five year old daughter who later died in a mental institution. The house is still standing in the middle of a 200+ acre cornfield in Virginia. As a white person raised in the south, I don't look at Nat Turner as some sort of hero. He killed women and children. That's just as bad if not worse than enslavement. It's like white people looking at the Ku Klux Klan as heroes. It's just plain out wrong.

02/25/2009

That any intelligent, reasoning, civilized people could see Nat Turner as anything more than an ante-bellum Charles Manson is both incredible and disturbing. Anyone finding anything heroic to celebrate about Nat Turner and his psychotic murder rampage should seek couseling. You have serious issues.
08/13/2008

I have been told at a Family Reunion that I am related to Nat Turner, which I am thrilled to know. However, we really haven't tracked it down to the point, how we are related, but if anyone knows, please let me know. Although, I was not living through that era, but during those hard cruel times, every black person had no choice in many decision were made. #1 we were slaves beyond our control and sold to the white man. I love and proud of the accomplishments he made that'why he made history today. If the white man would have left us alone, none of this wouldn't happened. My family is located in South Hampton County, Va. We recently had a family reunion, but his name was not mentioned as next to kin, I know he is. The Family Reunion (Turner-Stephens-Wright was held at the Fairgrounds. Approx. 200 family members showed up to represent their family. Also, slave owners showed up it was amazing.
07/22/2008
Kenyaka
Los Angeles

Nat Turner's real name was Nathan Tunica. the Tunica and the Washitaw own there own nation and was never a part of the United States. Their names were change from Tunica to Turner and from Washitaw to Washington. Nat Turner's father's name was Henry tunica. They went to Court in 1991 and the judge told them that they should have their own court and referred to her as Empress Verdiancee. They she is not United States citizen because the constitution saids that no United States citizen can have nobility. That's why the judge address her as Empress. She received a letter from President Clinton who addressed her as Empress. They were here 3,000 year before Christ. Huey B. Long wes murdered because he planned to give them their land back. Louisana was never a part of the United States. In 1992 The Empress was given the first installment of her land back of 75,000 acres, and 25 parishes. There was a Holiday Inn on her land and since they had to return it to her they destroy the hotel. According to the Empress, Nat Turner (Nathan Tunica) was not a crazy man, he just want his land back. They murdered his father and mother and changed the children names to Turner and made them slaves and sent them all through the south so they would not find their liniage and reclaim his land. He killed them because he wanted his land back and because they killed his parents and made him a slave. I will find the case number and post it in a few days for everyone to see and verify the truth.

07/22/2008

A person of color endured tragic consequences in the early fabric of America. Children, women, and men were killed under well known leaders like George Washington and Millard Fillmore. A lot of people we americans admired from the past can be guilty of not resolving the race problem. Nat Turner never killed a child physically but his actions ignited it. The same can be said of our leaders who did nothing while blacks and indians were murdered. Can one who disapproves Nat Turner agree? All should be held accountable. 07/02/2008
Nzingha Shabaka
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

he comments about Nat Turner being a cold hearted killer, I beg to differ. You need to understand, we Africans were under attack, we were/are at war living under white supermacy, when attacked, you attack back, it's only fair. If we had more freedom fighters like my brother Nat Turner, we never would have been held in slavery that long.

06/19/2008
Rocky Spaulding
Brunswick, Georgia

I feel that Slavery and the whole situation is horrible. It happened, so we should talk about it. To think of the terrible things that happened to slaves I am very suprised that there wete not hundreds upon hundreds of Nat Turners in the history books. I really believe that if I had to watch my sisters being raped and fellow friends being tortured and beaten that I too would have been a Nat Turner ( in the sence of what he did). I am a white southerner and I wish slavery had not happened, but it did and I hope we can learn from this situation and not let this sort of thing have to happen again. People should not be treated so badly that they feel they have to kill to shed light on a situation. I pray that one day we Americans would learn to get along and accept our differeces (to say blacks and whites are not different is just plain dishonest )so we can do what God intended us to do, Love Our Neighbors as ourselves.

03/27/2008

I have been thinking about this for some time. I am a white woman and hold very open views. When I first read the rebellion of Nat Turner my first thoughts were "good for him" but it wasn't. He died. It wasn't good for anyone in that town. All the dead, the whites and the blacks. The aftermath was horrible... Many slaves were killed by whites for fear of them rebelling, more restrictions and rights were taken away from blacks all over the south, however, it did stop and make people think and was a pivitol moment it history that caused pause and reflection and led this country to the emancipation of slaves.The whole situation was unfortunate! Unfortunate that anyone had to die to make others open their eyes to what is right. This history made me sad for all of us. It is so easy for us to place blame for our prejudices but the bottom line is we are all responsible everyday for how we treat others and no past deeds by other people is an excuse. I hope we can all use history as a lesson instead of something to fuel more animosity towards one another. I am thankful for the results it brought about, but I am saddened that it had to occur at all.

03/20/2008
Muata
Houston/Texas

1. I think Nat Turner uprising was righteous, in his ordained mission to "wake the dead" in the "valley of the dry bones" and to awake European Americans to their false image of the "happy slave and benign master."

2. I think violence is justified in certain cases. In the case of African Americans since the foundation of the country that became the United States of America it has been a state of terror. African Americans were and still are declared inferior. This declaration knocked Africans into a sub human/property category. In this declaration of black inferiority and white superiority its nothing to declare black inferior, but everything most be done in the social, political and economic arena to make it a statement of fact. When a citizen or citizens unalienable rights are a abridged violences is inevitable.

3. History is political and modern history is told in the point of view of white superior and black inferior percept.

02/28/2008

Nat Turner is an interesting story. It is hard for one to say what they would do in a similar situation as the one experienced by Nat Turner and other enslaved African Americans. True, murder is murder, but it is easy to understand how Turner reached his verdict. Put yourself in the shoes of a slave. You have been stripped of your family, beaten like an animal, watched your female counterparts being raped, seen other slaves: men, women, and children killed, kept intellectually stagnant, had relgion used as a justification for your inferiority, had steel collars with bells placed around your neck for previous attempts to escape, been minimized to "property", and numerous other heart sickening atrocities happen against you and your people. I'm not saying Nat Turner was right, but I can understand his behavior. Nat Turner sent white society into a frenzy. They could not imagine how an individual could engage in such ruthless and violent behavior. They responded to his attack by taking away the only free time slaves had to gather and support one another. White people did the unimaginable. They took enslaved African Americans one step further from a dignified life. Don't preach that African Americans should not consider Turner a hero. He was a hero because he made arrogant whites face the horrors which they had so easily inflicted on slaves with no remoarse. Turner's legacy should not be simplifed to that of a crazy, mentally ill slave who's chain snapped.

02/11/2008
Caroline
Portsmouth, Virginia

I am also a descendant of Nat Turner. My family is also from Southampton County. I feel as if Nat Turner was a very strong Black man who was tired of the injustices that our race faced during his time. I would love to research him more to find out exactly how we are related.

02/08/2008
Paiga Jones
Wiston _Salem

i think nat turner was right for what he did. i might have kill some white people nevermind no i wouldnt but i understand why he was very mad i would have been mad at them people too treating me like im a animal. but the people then should have treated them better then what the did. they shouldnt have look at them at the color of there skin. god maked to hate each other but to love and care for each other ya digg!!

11/27/2007
Megan
Rochester, NY

I recently watched Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property. Personally, I think its sickening that african american people can sit there and call him their hero. I am a white american and CLEARLY think that the era of slavery was horrible. I also recognize that political figures from the past that are often glorified (George Washington, just as an example) we slaveholders, and that truely does disturb me and curb all my respect for them. However, murder is murder. Many people today claim they killed people because of the way they were braught up, or a mental disorder. It is obvious that white people drove Nat Turner to his insanity. Bottom line once again Murder is murder. If a white man went out and commited a murder of women and children I have and I would hate them just as badly. Hero's to me would be people like Abraham Lincoln who tried to put an end to social injustices and paid a huge price for it. If a black society is looking for a hero they should look in the dirrection of Martin Luther King. Jr who faught for peace and equality among all people. The fact that a large black population sensationalizes the life of a cold blooded sociapath like Nat Turner and idolizes him speaks volumes and is really quite disturbing.

10/03/2007
Carola Edwards



Blacks were being held in bondage, tortured and murdered. Turner did what he did only to save lives. 5/18/07

I think that this is a very controversial rebellion because it raises the question is it right to fight back? at first i thought that it was right what Nat Turner did because he was very angry and was right to be. but then someone told me that this was liek terrorism- al queda was saying that we- america- have killed thousands of innocent people in iraq so this was payback. then that changed my mind. i think nat turner was right to do the rebellion, but it wasn't right.

5/5/07
New Jersey

In my opinion the reason Nat went off killing slave owners was because he was mad and wanted revenge against the slave owners. I remeber him from the movie "Roots" and how from his actions white folks were really scared.

3/13/07
5/5/07
Salim K A Tahir
Canton, Mass

The simple truth is, Nat Turner, Gabriel or Denmark Vesey all followed a natural law. Among the Maori people of New Zealand the cry was "Utu," in South Africa the cry was "One bullet one settler," to our forbears who gave their lives that we might be free the cry was "Kill them all." Given the circumstances, what choice did any of them have? What man or woman of courage and true compassion would have thought any different?

3/13/07
4/19/07
L.C.
Suffolk, Virginia

I've hesitated for awhile about sharing my sentiments about Nat Turner. I will however, shed some light on Nat Turner's heritage. First and foremost, Nat Turner was not a dark skinned Black man. The portraits that we see, the paintings that we see are inaccurate. He was portrayed as a dark black man, a slave, to demonize who his ethnically. Nat Turner's mother was not an African slave. I've read different articles where it was said she was African slave. Some have gone so far as to say she was an Ethopian slave. Both are incorrect. His mother was of Cheroenhaka-Nottoway heritage and was placed into bondage. More than likely his mother was probably half Black and half Native American. His father was rumored to be slave and plantation owner Benjamin Turner. So in short, he was not a dark-skinned Black male. He had a fair complexion. Most people would consider what I am saying is theory. To futher prove this theory, Turner learned to read and write from the slave master's very own son. Most light complected slaves were usually house negroes. He would not have gotten so close to the son unless he was in the house. Secondly old man Turner encouraged Nat's "education", as long as he was reading the Bible. Most slave masters, regardless of how "kind" they were, would not have allowed such education for slaves, especially since it was illegal. Quite often when slave owners fathered illegitimate children with female slaves, those children often times lived in the main house and received preferential treatment.

Too make a long story short there is so much about this man that has been omitted from history, whether done purposely or just simply because there is lack of information. The Cheroenhaka-Nottoways may actually have a little more information regarding Nat Turner and various family members. If you visit the Cheroenhaka-nottoway.org site you can ask Chief Walt David Brown to share any info that he may have. I believe he is in the process of collecting more data on Nat Turner and his lineage.

3/13/07
Aquil
NY, NY

Nat Turner is a hero to black people , but he is our hero , people say he is a bad man bc he killed white people , how many have white people killed of black people ? the little bit that he killed doesn't even add up to one digit on the number of blacks killed by whites.

2/26/07
Brena
Cali

I thought he was a bad man. I understand he was standing up for his rights, but what he did was cruel. He killed people that were not harming anyone!



2/12/07
jada flores
brooklyn'ny

nat turner was a good man and i can't belieave that he died when he was only 30-years-old.



12/19/06
Briaunica Clark
La

I really think this is some great reasearch about Nat Turner I really think Nat Turner been through so much really how did he get caught Nat turner is a brave slave.



11/10/06
Newpoet News VA

You have to be related to me.my mom grew up in portsmouth, in cavilier manor. My grandma was born in emporia and i dont really know alot about it but they did research and found that we are direct decsendents of Nat Turner. my graet grand mothers was turner i think untill she married the blakes . im only 21 yrs old and im ashamed to say it but most yuong people my age dont know much about black history. could u teach me to learn my family tree. who knows we could be really related



10/12/06
Michelle Williams
Portsmouth Va

I just want to thank any and everybody who had found information about Nat Turner who is my 3X Great Grandfather. It is nice to know that people are actually learning legacy of him.



10/11/06
Trimaine

I think nat was a hero because of what he did. Half of the people in this world couldn't walk in his shoes. He was just tryin to make it a better life for African American's. Killing slavesowner and there family wasn't in the wrong because it wasn't just the slaveowner treatin slaves like shit...it was the whole family. Someone had to stand up to fight for freedom and thats what he was doing. Even though he was captured and killed it still made a difference in slavery.



7/27/06

First of all no human being should every be treated the way black people were treated or Jewish people were persecuted, to have to live through the horrors that African Americans had to endure back then is unimaginable. I don't agree with all of what he did but I understand, to say he is or isn't hero is a matter of opinion.



4/27/06
New Orleans, LA.

People are so wierd, when it comes to revolutionaries. Just look at how history glorifies individuals like William Wallace (the braveheart guy), who did pretty much the same thing under pretty much the same social circumstances. Maybe if Mel Gibson made blackheart (Nat's revenge), then Nat would be held in such esteem by white America.



4/19/06
Janice
Portsmouth

I am related to Nat Turner. My family originated from Southampton County and I believe that in order to understand why he did what he did, one should've been in his shoes. Someday I woud like to visit Nat Turner's site with my grandson.



3/16/06
David Charnock

I think he did the right thing,he did what he had to.Because its people like him that let african americans have freedom, But i dont think he should of belived vilance was the way.



3/6/06
GERARD FREEMAN
SAN JOSE, CA

AFTER ALL I READ ABOUT NAT TURNER. I THINK HE IS A HERO FOR ALL AFRICAN AMERICANS. I WAS THINKING IF I WAS IN THAT TIME, IN HIS SHOES, I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING. HE HAD GOT A NEW WHITE SLAVE MASTER THAT TREATED HIM ALOT WORSE THAN THE OLD MASTER. WELL I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THE DVD VERSION.



3/3/06
anthony

I think Nat tuner was wrong for killing his owner and the owners family. hes a hero for killing some one for making him do some work. WOW!!!!!!!!



3/2/06
Boston MA

Nat Turner was by all means a hero. Slavery created the conditions for which he became insane and was able to kill innocent women and children.



2/21/06

Being a direct decendant of Nat Turner I KNOW for a fact he was a brave soul and did what was necessary for his family



2/8/06

i think nat was a crazy fella. he was a slave and killed his owner and their family. how does that make him better than the owners



1/31/06
Belleview, FL

Yes, Nat Turner made a stand for his people, in his time,earning his place in history as an historical figure for fighting for his right and his people's right to freedom. But to be branded an hero, I think not. A hero does not murder innocent children and babies. We can be proud of him for his fight for freedom but the way he went about it was wrong. To say he did the right thing and celebrate him as a hero sends the wrong message. Let's celebrate him for his courage in fighting for freedom, but not for the violent way he chose to gain it.



1/31/06
Florence wiley
North Little Rock, AR

Nat Turner, a man who knew that no man has the right's to own another man.A man who hated injusticedand did something about it.Which is every Godly person job to hate injustice on this earth.since God said love everyone. To enslave a man is not love.



1/17/06
Chanel
Reston

I think that Nat Turner was a signifigant leader in slavery times.I also think that he brought a lot of hope to a lot of fearful people and let us all know even to this day that you should stand up for what you belive even if it DOES cause you to lose your life. I always said that if I lived in slavery time that I would have stood up and made a change and he helped to make a change and I respect him for that.



12/1/05
Sasha
Noth Carolina /Greensbro
I think that Nat Turner was a very brave man and did good things for him and his family to become a free man.



9/29/05
Daniel Polson
Bronx, NY
Nat Turner was without a doubt one of the greatest heroes the black community has ever had. Sure he killed women and children along with slaveowners. But as the great Malcolm X said, "The chickens have come home to roost." What does this mean? What goes around comes around. Nathaniel Turner experienced the worst of slavery and had to take a stand. Sometimes, only blood being spilled is the only way to be taken seriously. Who is worst, the slaveowners who raped and killed at will, or Nat defending his people? Nathaniel Turner, I Honor You.



9/26/05
Mase
Brooklyn, NY
Nat Turner was hardly crazy. Nat Turner was probably the most sane person of the time. Because he believed that he deserved to be free. It was the ones who believed they were meant to be enslaved or second class citizens (or less) that were the crazy ones. They were insane, but it wasn't their fault. They had the sanity taken away from them. Nat Turner tried to regain that sanity by any means necessary.



7/25/05
K M Parham
Nat Turner is the basis for the church leaders of Today.And how the slave owners used the bible and fear to guide the slaves.
Nat Turner was just following the Hero's of freedom in the bible like David and Moses..and felt his violence was blessed.
THe problem is leaders today are like Mr.Turner and the slave owners using the bible to control.



4/29/05
Sly
Baltimore, Md
To even have a debate shows how much slavery has destroyed our minds. If anyone is taken by another with force, it is your god given right to fight for you life. How can anyone debate Nat Turner other than praise. Only Europeans and Africans who have no knowlege of self have a problem with Nat Turner, and that is TRUTH!



3/30/05
Walter
Yonkers,N.Y.
Nat turner had to kill all of those whiite people. they deserved it and if he did not then he would not have gotten famous and would have just been some other "nigger" but he stood out and made a choice. That's he's in the book because he wasn't scared.



3/11/05
Miranda Woods
Springfield,IL
Maybe Nat Turner was angry about being enslaved, but he did not have to kill all those people.



3/9/05
Cynthia Woodruff
Tabernacle New Jersey
Yeah well... no no no no.... Nat did have a right to do what he did. The whole thing about a message from God.. i dont know... but that doesnt matter. There was no need for slaves... if you had a slave that just ment that you were a fat, lazy, rich person. Yeah



3/4/05
Taalibah
decatur,ga
i think nat turner perhaps was a prophet sent by the gods. there have been many black leaders that have tried to lead us to freedom, yet as we cried for freedom , we did nothing to gain that freedom for we were afarid to fight for that so-called freedom and we still cry out, 'we shall over come'. and in doing so we rather kill our fellow brothers.

i think there was more to the life of nat turner then that in which is being told. for much of the black man;s history has been either covered up or burned and buried, just as our religion. i can not see christianity as being the religion of the black man/woman. for so long have we prayed, cried, asked, begged and have gotten no where or that which we did receieve we had to explain where it came from, how is it that we can afford such and such. what brother nat stood for is the same thing that our future brothers had tried to introduce us to, but we let false religion, false preachers, ministers mislead us with the caucasians religion. brother nat reminds me of brother malcom x, they knew what we had to do yet we would not walk with him.



3/2/05
Delores Pailin
Woodbridge, Virginia
Mr. Turner was an extremely strong black man who made a decision to dedicate his life towards what he thought was a beginning to an end of slavery. He must have felt someone had to take a stance in demonstrating to Jim Crow society that enough was enough. Blacks were tired of being worked and beaten raw, wives/mothers raped liked animals, families members sold and separated, never to be seen again. He must have felt that someone, some group had to take a physical stance, showing the white man that blacks had had enough mistreatment and could not withstand anymore. He must have felt the only way the white man would realize the sincerity of this stance was to return violence with violence.

Violence is the fabric of this satanistic society. How can we put our heads together and reweave the fabric?

I do believe there is most certainly a fundamental truth to any event. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to see or hear it, did it fall? Yes, the evidence of the tree laying there and the broken stump from which it fell is the proof of the thruth.



2/11/05
What would you do if you were beaten and treated like an animal? What would you do to Survive? Would you accept that as a way of life for you and your offspring?

These people were Monsters and committed crimes against mankind and humanity. They called themselves Christians and went to church faithfully. What God do they serve?

For more than four hundred this travesty took place here in United Sates of America

This travesty will haunt the conspirators until the Day of Judgment; this is a Monstrous and Horrific Sin.

Nat knew is inalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He knew that the endowment was given by the Creator.

It is my opinion, Nat Turner did what any man would do to survive and protect his family, and so, that puts him in a hero status to me.



2/10/05
I believe Nat Turner was a crazy but very couragous man that followed his heart and did what he thought was right. He may have murdered many but he did it in a way to prove a point. He has changed history greatly and will always be remembered as the revolt leader!



2/1/05
Nat was a REAL American hero. There was so much oppression by the whites that God had to send his messengers to have them realize their sins. Call him crazy or insane but when you continually oppress you make your days on this earth shorter. The only satisfaction from his death is that those evil slave holders went to hell. You can not justify slavery. Innocent men and YES women and children of african heritage murdered. If you don't believe blame your history teach and read "Without Sanctuary"



11/16/04
Boston, MA
The Confessions of Nat Turner is not only a historical account of slavery but a lesson in critical thinking. This story forces you to deconstruct the events by carefully examining the details and then reconstruct a story according to the facts and evidence you as a reader find to be true. There are two voices in the Confessions, a black one and a white one. It is important to bear in mind that Gray himself was an appointed attorney by the state, who was going through an economic hardship from 1829 to during the time of rebellion, and a slaveholder of 21 slaves himself. All of these factors are filters through which the story is told.



10/29/04
nat was cool. he was brave. he was awsome.



3/29/04
Andy Rector
Los Angeles California
This film on Nat Turner is lovely. It really leaves you room, and it teaches all the same. Not many documentaries on PBS or elsewhere are so generous. I've seen a few other Burnett films and they were all of the highest quality. He touches something beyond what the average film touches. Please please PLEASE re-air this documentary Nat Turner:A Troublesome Property!!! In fact have a Burnett retrospective. I hear that some of his films will be available on DVD soon: KILLER OF SHEEP and MY BROTHERS WEDDING, you should play his other films and in fact give him more opportunities to MAKE films. Thank you for considering.

Peace,
andy



2/23/04
The opinions being made on "Talkback" are very insightful and well expressed. It is obvious that the question of this being heroism will provide a basis for discussion, argument and thought provocation for ages to come; therefore in the context of this statement I will neither condemn or commend Nat Turner's actions.

As a child, living in Southampton County in the early 60's, I was told a vague story about these events. Years later Henry Irving Tragle's book, "The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831," helped to unveil the facts that these tales had neglected to reveal. Many times during the late 1970's and early 80's I visited the home sites and surrounding area where the insurrection took place.

I have walked around homes, such as Catherine Whitehead's and stood at the cellar cap where Margaret Whitehead was hiding before Nat chased and killed her; admittedly his only victim. The seven bodies there were supposedly placed in a single shallow grave in a garden 100 feet from the house. On occasion I still visit some of these places where the tangibles that still exist today do not help much with speculation but help make it seem all too real.



2/20/04
Ranjani Spence
Recently, while assisting students in our 5th grade class research in our library. A student who was assigned Nat Turner remarked "there is hardly any information on my person." I truly did not have a full understanding or reason why until viewing your film. Thank you for aiding me in expanding my knowledge. I hope that I can pass this on to my students who are ten and eleven.



2/20/04
Chris Reed
Belllflower, CA
I enjoyed the documentary on Nat Turner very much. However, I don't know if the book that was written was actually the words of Nat Turner.

Slavery was just a horrible time for Black people and I do feel that what he did in his eyes was justice. Perhaps it did make some of those oppessors have a chance to finally think about the terror that they caused Black people then and which still exist in today's society. How sad that is....



2/13/04
J.W. Logan
Staatsburg, NY
I've known about Turner all my life, have read the Styron work, the 10 Black Writers respond,etc - in all of the pieces I've read on the man, and also in the PBS presentation on last night, I never get the feeling enough attention is paid to Nat's visions. What separates the Turner rebellion from,say, Denmark Vesey's is that Turner saw himself as divinely mandated to carry out these acts. And, no, I do not believe that T.R. Gray 'inserted' the visions in the confessions to make Turner appear 'mad'. Turner clearly viewed himself as a Prophet doing God's will - why does no one address this aspect of the man? The omission mystifies me....



2/13/04
Jeffery Fields
Venice, California
The history of wars and other violent conflicts has almost universally been written by the victors of the conflicts. Thus the original story of Nat Turner's revolt was written by 19th Century white males. Contemporary journalists, redacters of oral accounts, and most notably T. R. Graves described Turner as criminally insane. Since 1831, various writers have reshaped Turner to suit their own visions and political agendas.

Today, we must exercise caution in determining the real history of the event. We cannot rely on what has been written, at least not on the sources mentioned in the film, because what was written was not an unbiased account of the historical event. In fact, none of the writings mentioned in the film were written by historians. This is surely the film's primary flaw in that there is no mention of documents written by historian about the Nat Turner Rebellion.

I see the event as a violent reaction to the violent and humiliating oppression of black slaves. Slavery, and the African slave trade were atrocities and crimes against humanity. Yet the killings of unarmed women and children in their sleep are also criminal atrocities. These killings led to reprisal killings where some innocent blacks were undoubtedly tortured and killed. Justice "by any means necessary" is not just, and Malcolm X would recant this philosophy only to be murdered himself. Martin Luther King, and the great leader of Indian independence were both assasinated, but they believed that non-violent activism was the only way to bring about justice and an end to violent oppression.

Righteous anger is justifiable, and certainly Nat Turner and his fellow slave rebels had every right to be angry. Acting on this anger by killing indiscriminately was neither just, nor did it mitigate the institution of slavery, and many innocent slaves and their families suffered as a result.



2/13/04
Ann Cz. Greenwood
Winchester, MA
Regarding the story of Nat Turner, the elements that continue to grab at our attention are the horrific circumstances of the murder of white landowner familes, the lynchings of innocent black slaves, and the executions of the slaves who participated in the rebellion. And of course, the unanswerable question: did Attorney Gray's account accurately capture, or in fact distort, the words and thoughts of Nat Turner himself?

What we do not wish to see, to even so much as consider, is that Nat Turner did indeed make a contribution; did actually set a precedent-- albeit in a misguided manner, with a cruel and unjust plan of action-- but a precedent all the same: one where the oppressed take action to reframe the debate and define the battleground.

Collectively, we white people have never felt comfortable when the disadvantaged, the non-privileged, the desperate, the wretched of the earth, take action to dictate the terms of discourse, to level the playing field. Look at us! Even when young people of color try to gain legitimate access to the keys to success-- notably, the higher education system-- we dig in our heels and find all sorts of arguments why the system cannot afford to give a little.

Deep within our souls, our psyches, we must come to terms with the notion that the world does not belong to us alone. This is the truth to which we must reconcile ourselves, "by whatever means necessary."



2/11/04
Iris Jenkins
Philadelphia. PA
I can appreciate that the filmmakers tried to show all aspects and controversy surrounding the Nat Turner�s rebellion and confession. After listening to what William Stryon had to say about his novel and why he included a so-called romance between Nat and the white teenage girl I am still convince that Styron made a mistake. He wrongly assumes/insinuates that sexual tensions were at the heart of Turners decision to lead a rebellion against slave owners. Since there is no historical evident to support this theory/storyline it only serves to sensationalize and minimize a significant historical event.

I find it interesting that some historians think that Turner should have shown humanity to the families of the Slaves owners when it is clear that humanity and slavery did not co-exist. The killing of the women and children was no more brutal than the institution of enslavement. One can say that very institution of enslavement begat the violence of the rebellion.

Finally I do not see Nat Turner as a crazed lunatic (as Thomas R. Gray has portrayed him), but as a man driven by the cruelty of enslavement to seek liberty at any cost.



2/11/04
R.G.Y.
E. Windsor, CT
I am not a man of color, but I have known oppression. You don't have to be of color to be oppressed in most nations...you just have to be poor. Nat Turner is a name I have some times heard in various contexts, but never in detail, and thanks to PBS for the education. Also, Mr Turner's Confession seems true enough to me, and I can not understand the scepticism concerning it. Finally, Nat Turner's story presents an interesting thesis:

Was he a hero who stood up for an impoverished and enslaved people, or did he fall short in forgetting that it was not a race that opposed him but an inferior ideology?

I respect his motives, but feel it's easy to kill flesh; it takes more patience and faith in God to wait upon the death of a bad idea...



2/11/04
Jay C. Scott
Fort Worth, tx.
This was an outstanding display of the history of an American story. This honest depiction of the fight for freedom in the days of slavery is eye awakening and mind provoking. I had always wondered and questioned the thought, why didn't any plantations get over-run by slaves. From the stories/pictures, minute as they were, I have heard/seen they always potrayed numerous slaves and few Master/non-slaves. This filled a long unanswered void..Where could I find Pictures such as "on the road to jerusalem" which was shown in the program. I would love to have such a portrait in my house.



2/11/04
Nat Turner was undoubtedly insane, but anyone might have lost their minds trying to live as a slave. I believe if there is a hell, our white ancestors who participatted in this terrible practice went there.

I am curious about the Martha Whitehead which Styron developed in his book. Some Whiteheads in Southampton County on the Nottoway River were Quakers in the 1700s. Some of them moved to NC to avoid perse-cution in VA. The family murdered by Turner were surely their cousins. What made Styron think Nat was friends with Martha? I do not care for history without facts to back up theories. Are there more details in contemporaeous accounts?



2/11/04
I find it shocking that anyone would consider Nat Turner a hero! There are so many other Black Americans that are more deserving of being called a hero. Is it heroic to kill woman and children? In 1831, the only category of European Americans that had power were adult white men. It is a fact that children and women had no power in that time and can not, with any reason, be held responsible for the existence of slavery. Even in war time, killing woman and children has been maintained as the most awful crime. How can Nat Turner's Massacre be acceptable and Lt. William Calley's Massacre in Mylai, Vietnam be considered a war crime? They are very similar events although I don't remember if Calley killed anyone sleeping in their bed. If Nat Turner were alive today he would be living in a Psychiatric Hospital.

To make matters worse, Nat Turner did nothing to end slavery and it could be argued that many white people on the verge of becoming abolitionists probably lost sympathy for the enslaved. If he had simply marched to the Atlantic and took over a boat, killing only those that stood in his way, he could have been a hero



2/11/04
Kenneth Cary
Roanoke, Va
I grew up in Southampton Co. Va. I've never seen the film referenced in this article, however I remember being told a very vivid story of Nat Turner's activities of that Resurrection. This story was (passed down through the generations. My granfather's brother was born in the late 1800's and he told the story as it was told to him by my great grandfather. This story has been covered up for too long. It's time for the [real] story to be told.



2/11/04
danville va
that actor shaun depriest was very good in the movie he brought moses to life.he is a up and coming actor that goes to louisburg college.



2/11/04
Edward Bankston
Detroit
I've have waited for years to see some kind of film on Nat Turner. I have been told all of my life (51 years) that Nat Turner was my Grandmother's Uncle on my father's side. Her name was Marion Turner, she married Thomas Bankston. I believe that is what inspired me to be so militant all of my young life. I anxiously await the program.

Thankew,
Edward Bankston



2/11/04
jay
jersey city nj
i think its good u are doin stories like this one. its good to know that u keep a open mind on various subjects



2/11/04
Cynthia Button
Nat Turner is proof of what hatred can do to a persons soul. Hate is like a festering sore that keeps on growing eating the flesh until the entire person is consumed. Whether or not his detailed confession is an elaborate story of his reasoning or if he truly believed he was the next moses will forever remained unanswered. The only thing we can hope to gain from reading and watching the detailed account of Turner's Rebellion is to learn what drove him to such an act, what the repercussions of slavery had, and how we can learn from those mistakes as a nation and continue to change racial prejudices.



2/11/04
Ralph D. Story, DA
Ann Arbor, Michigan
To Whom It May Concern:

I've noticed in the pre-publicity you've (PBS) provided for this documentary about Nat Turner that William Styron is mentioned and his book, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), was/is apparently used by the filmakers as if it was/is a legitimate historical document or a primary source. Styron was/is a novelist--not a historian--who didn't live in Nat Turner's time period. I hope this point is made by someoone so the young people watching this piece won't be given the impression that a writer of fiction is a credentialed historian. Yet. . .I've also noticed that I haven't read of the book which immediately set out to challenge Styron's book edited by the late great black historian John Henrik Clarke--William Styron's Nat Turner: ten black writers respond (1968). I almost get the impression from this omission (and it's not the first time for African American scholars and their work to be ommitted) that this particular work was purposely ignored because it raised legitimate and bona fide scholarly questions about Styron and his work. I'll be waiting to see if Styron's book is given more prominence and credibility than it deserves (just like it received in 1967 instead of a much better novel written by the great African American novelist John A. Williams: The Man Who Cried I Am.



2/11/04
Nana Afriyie I
West Africa
An African born, educator and historian, believe history must be looked at in its entirety and children of African kings and queens stolen from their land has done the worst damage to humankind, this destruction of people of African descent is worst than the Holocaust and continues in a psychological sense with destructive crippling images of black kings hanging from trees instead of black presidents of Africa and black men in powerful and influential roles building nations in Africa leading to a better world for us all.

African descendents should be told about the greatness of the blessed continent they own prior to their capture and Africa's significant role in world history to the present. Focusing only on the worst history of a great continent and people can only keep perpetuating mental slavery that is destructive.

America was founded by people who were disenfranchised and migrated here in search of a new world...this history is glorified throughout history and people of African descent have a glorious, authentic and rich history....history has revealed Africa is the cradle of civilization, indicative of the mysterious pyramids of North Africa to name a few that still challenges modern technology today...Africa is the largest continent in the world with an abundance of natural and human resources...and if any nation is to be all that the creator has called it to be, it must embrace history in its full context to free the minds of all God's children because mental bondage trancends all others....may God grant us wisdom to have eyes and ears to thirst for true knowledge in its fullness and like one of the greatest MUSICIANS of all times Michael Jackson teaches us to "HEAL THE WORLD"!



2/11/04
I plan to use "A troublesome Property" in my 8th grade American History class. Fittingly being shown during black history month, my students can further explore the realities of slavery in this country.

My class is of diverse racial make-up which further illustrates the importance and significance of men like Nat Turner.

While we might teach civil disobedience, it is important to understand why violence is sometimes the only answer in the minds of the oppressed. Only through education and constant renewed tolerance can we hope to take a peaceful stand in order to accomplish change.



2/9/04
Michael K. Edger
St. Louis , MO.
I feel the story of Nat Turner Has tolong been untold. The fact of the matter is that his story and many other stories of people of color has been brushed over as small footnotes in bigger story of american history. We can glorfiy the names of Lewis and Clark and make movies like cold mountain but at the same time over look epic stories of scarfice and stuggles like Dred Scott. When are we as a society and culture, going to truely embrace the true fabric of america and americans and tell the stories of america's true past and histories. We owe it to are youth to be honest and truthful about our dark and terrible past. As a park ranger for the national park service we do sorry job of this and thank God, for public telvision and programs like independent lens.





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