Joey McFarland, an Oscar-nominated producer who funded Will Smith’s historical action movie ‘Emancipation,’ recently apologised on social media for bringing the original portrait of the slave who served as the inspiration for his most recent film to the premiere.
He said that his intention was not to be disrespectful in any way, but rather to honour the exceptional individual.
‘I wholeheartedly apologise to everyone I have offended by bringing a photograph of Peter to the Emancipation premiere,’ the producer said in an apology letter on Sunday.
‘My intent was to honour this remarkable man and to remind the general public that his image has not only brought about change in 1863 but still resonates and promotes change today.’
‘After uncovering Peter’s origin story with help from diligent historians, I spent the last few years working with the Emancipation creative time in order to bring his story to life so worldwide audiences would have an opportunity to appreciate his heroism. I hope my actions don’t distract from the film’s message, Peter’s story and just how much impact he had on the world,’ McFarland continued.
The producer added, ‘Throughout the research and development of Emancipation, I discovered photographs of overlooked and historically important individuals whose stories also needed to be told. One photograph, of Martin Delaney, is on loan to the National Portrait Gallery and is currently on exhibit. My plan was always to donate the photographs to the appropriate institution, in consultation with the community, and I believe there is no better time to begin that process than now.’
In the photograph McFarland brought to the premiere, an escaped slave named Peter is seen. The image depicts his naked back being mangled by raised welts and bruises brought on by constant lashing. It is also referred to as ‘The Scourged Back’ and ‘Whipped Peter.’ It was taken during a Union Army medical examination.