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The Reverend Al Sharpton believes that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the right-wing media are actively trying to smear Birth of a Nation creator Nate Parker in order to prevent the narrative of a slave rebellion from being told.

In an interview with The Root, Sharpton criticized the fact that recently, the media has focused on the rape charges that were leveled against Parker and his friend Jean McGianni Celestin 17 years ago, even though Parker was acquitted and Celestin got the charges dropped in an appeal.

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“Now, all of a sudden, they rediscover what they already knew,” Sharpton said of the media’s coverage of the rape charges. “The way you kill the message is you try to smear the messenger.”

He went on to criticize the double standard of the way the media has covered this story.

“Nobody is justifying wrong, but if you go to court, charge somebody with the crime and the courts in Pennsylvania in 1999 find you not guilty, you can’t have it both ways,” Sharpton said.

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He said that he understands the concerns raised by women who have read about the charges, but he wants to know why Parker specifically has been targeted.

“All I want to know is, what is the standard? Is the standard now that you can take an almost two-decade acquittal and beat him down and deny him the Oscars, but it’s all right for others who’ve done crazy stuff to be Oscar material? I just want to know, what is the standard?”

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