“Emancipation” producer Joey McFarland has apologized after being criticized for bringing a photo of the enslaved man known as “Whipped Peter,” who inspired the film, to the Los Angeles premiere. Angeles.
“I sincerely apologize to anyone I offended by bringing a picture of Peter to the ‘Emancipation’ premiere,” McFarland wrote in a statement on his Instagram on Sunday afternoon. “It was my intention to honor this remarkable man and remind the general public that his image not only sparked change in 1863, but still resonates and promotes change.”
McFarland was widely criticized after disclosure that he carried the original 1863 photograph of “Whipped Peter”, whose real name was Gordon, as he spoke to Variety at the premiere of the movie. Photographed when he was fit for uniform to join the Union Army, the image of the scars on Gordon’s back was widely circulated at the time, exposing the brutality of slavery to the American people.
‘I have the picture. This is the original photo from 1863. I wish he was here tonight. I wanted a piece of Peter to be here tonight,” McFarland said at the premiere on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, so many artifacts and photographs have not been preserved, curated or respected. And I took it upon myself to curate and build a collection for future generations.”
“Emancipation” is based on Gordon’s escape from slavery. The film, starring Will Smith and directed by Antoine Fuqua, is currently in select theaters and will make a streaming debut on Apple TV+ on Friday.
“I hope my actions have not distracted from the film’s message, Peter’s story and how much of an impact he had on the world,” McFarland’s apology continues. “During the research and development of ‘Emancipation’, I discovered photographs of overlooked and historically significant individuals whose stories also needed to be told. One photograph, by Martin Delaney, is on loan to the National Portrait Gallery and is currently on display. My plan has always been to donate the photos to the right institution, in consultation with the community, and I believe there is no better time to begin that process than now.
Read McFarland’s statement below.