Wiley College officially announced early Sunday that one of the stars of The Great Debaters—actor, director, producer, writer, and musical performer Nate Parker—is starting a film and drama school at the HBCU campus to help empower young people in East Texas and across the country.
(The film The Great Debaters depicts Wiley’s debate team beating Harvard in the 1930s, though in real life the team didn’t face off against Harvard. At the tiem, Wiley College was David and the University of Southern California was Goliath, and David did indeed defeat Goliath in that matchup.)
KLTV reported on Friday that Nate Parker has been keeping tabs on Wiley and “even using their a cappella choir for the soundtrack of his film, The Birth of a Nation.” Parker’s election to Wiley’s board of trustees was also announced, about which Parker said he’s “honored” to serve.
Now when exactly do classes begin? Here’s what we know:
- The first classes at the Nate Parker School of Film and Drama will be held in the fall.
- Before that, about 30 high school and college students will join a nine-day summer institute as a pilot program for the school.
- In addition, 10 current Wiley seniors have already been chosen to serve at the summer institute as staff.
But those are just the short-term goals for the school. Parker also wants to “bring Hollywood back to East Texas,” and “create a pipeline toward filmmaking physically through developing the college, having filmmakers be nurtured and cultivated here, and then having somewhere for them to go with respect for them actually being able to engage in filmmaking here in East Texas, then it kind of serves multiple purposes,” he said.
“You control the moving picture, you control the masses. So really getting them rallied around the idea of reclaiming the narrative of America, specifically through the eyes of people of color,” Parker said.
Tommy G. Meade Jr. is editor-in-chief of HBCU Buzz. He is a journalist, writer, and blogger based in Ohio. This article was written by Tommy G. Meade Jr. and originally posted on HBCUBuzz. It is reprinted here with permission.