(image credit: Huffington Post)

The idea of Black History Month began in 1915, but it was not officially recognized until 1976 under President Gerald Ford.

Since then, the month of February has been designated as the month for recognizing the achievements of the African American community as well as the impact African Americans have had on United States history.

The Office of Diversity kicked off Black History Month by screening the historical drama, “The Birth of a Nation” in the Mara Auditorium on Wednesday, February 1. Popcorn and bever­ages were free for the taking.

The film tells the story of Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the 19th century. Turner was called upon to preach to unruly slaves across the state. While doing so, he witnessed nu­merous atrocities, including the merciless beating of his wife.

Angered by all he had seen, Turner united with other slaves and planned a large-scale rebel­lion against slave owners across Virginia. After two days of ad­vancement, in which roughly sixty white men and women were killed, the rebellion was sup­pressed and Turner was hanged.

The rebellion, which fright­ened many white Virginians, is considered to be the largest sus­tained slave revolt in U.S. History.

The event was hosted by Mi­chael Reeves, director of Diversity Programs. “We really wanted to have a balance between current and past events,” said Reeves. “I think black history is Ameri­can history, and it’s important to recognize the struggles that oc­curred.”

The film was incredibly pow­erful and intense, as well as heart­breaking. It also did an excellent job of bringing awareness to a very unsettling time in American history.

Actor Nate Parker, who por­trayed Nat Turner, gave a very convincing and dramatic perfor­mance. Parker also served as the director of the film.

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