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Nate Parker to Deliver Commencement Address

photo of Nate Parker, the actor(NSU Newsroom – April 25, 2023) — Award-winning actor, writer, director and producer Nate Parker will deliver the keynote address to nearly 600 graduating students at Norfolk State University’s Commencement Ceremony. The 110th Commencement will take place at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 6, 2023, at William “Dick” Price Stadium, located on the campus of Norfolk State University.

Parker has played lead characters and held starring roles in at least 19 films, including Beyond The Lights, Red Tails, The Secret Life of Bees, Arbitrage and Pride. 

Most recently, Parker wrote, directed and starred in the film, The Birth of a Nation, which tells the story of Nat Turner (played by Parker) who led the 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia. In his vision for the film, Parker expresses his deep desire to challenge the country to “heal from racial trauma through an honest confrontation with our past.” The Birth of a Nation won both of Sundance’s most sought-after honors: the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. 

In addition to being a prolific artist, he is also a devoted activist. Parker says, “If I am to be remembered by anyone, I would hope, those people speak my name as an individual who possessed a riotous disposition toward injustice, offering life and career as one of service to the marginalized, subjugated and oppressed peoples of the world.” 

Parker recently launched the Nate Parker Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission to confront systemic crises and disparities within the African and African American communities in the areas of education, cultural enrichment and social and economic justice. He is an outspoken advocate for racial equality, dedicating much of his time to closing the opportunity gap for boys and young men of color.

The Summer Film Institute is the flagship program of the Nate Parker Foundation. In partnership with and hosted at Norfolk State University, the ten-day program brings together scholars and industry professionals to teach Black, aspiring artists about the art of filmmaking. The program is open to high schoolers, college students, and recent graduates and offers full scholarships for participants who have financial limitations. After the inaugural institute on the NSU campus in summer 2022, Norfolk State looks forward to the second annual institute during the upcoming summer of 2023. Details will be forthcoming.

During the founding of the Summer Film Institute, the Nate Parker Foundation said, “Norfolk State University is the ideal venue to create a film program that is, at its very essence, engaged in the history of African America. Historically Black Colleges and Universities are living memorials to the 12 million enslaved Africans who survived the middle passage, as well as all of their descendants. The Nate Parker Summer Film Institute will train future filmmakers as historians, activists, and artists who are prepared to be change agents that challenge prevalent images and stereotypes that exist in media for people of African descent through film and theater. Graduates of the Institute will receive professional training, mentorship, and gain access to networking circles in the film industry.”

Parker holds a degree in Computer Programming from the University of Oklahoma and an honorary Doctorate from Wiley College.

For more information or to cover commencement, contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at 757.823.8373.