Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, has announced that it is establishing the Nate Parker School of Film and Drama in the fall of 2016. Nate Parker is the writer, producer, director and lead actor in the film The Birth of a Nation that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The film tells the story of Nat Turner who led a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831. Turner was apprehended and executed by hanging.
Fox Searchlight Pictures bought the world-wide rights to the film for $17.5 million, enabling Parker to make a substantial donation to Wiley College to fund the establishment of the new film school. The school will begin with a nine-day summer institute on the Wiley College campus for 30 high school students. Regular film classes will begin in the fall 2016 semester.
Wiley College, located west of Shreveport, Louisiana in East Texas, enrolls about 1,350 students. African Americans make up 85 percent of the student body. The 1935 debate team at Wiley College defeated the defending national debate team champion. The story was told in the film The Great Debaters starring Denzel Washington.