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News With Nicola: Is Will Smith’s Emancipation Movie Based on a True Story?

“At the end of the day, Emancipation is a beautiful piece of art that we hope will help bridge the gap between people. A story that will help all of us find and desire the greatest version of ourselves. This is a movie about freedom. It’s about faith, endurance and love. A whole lot of things that the world needs more of right now.” – Will Smith

Welcome to another episode of “News With Nicola,” where we talk news, culture and entertainment, and with the occasional special guest about tough and timely topics.

In this episode, Managing Editor Nicola A. Menzie takes a look at Will Smith’s new movie “Emancipation.” The film is inspired by the true story of “Whipped Peter,” an escaped slave with a scarred back. She takes a look at the history and how faith is central to the film.

According to Apple: “Emancipation” tells the triumphant story of Peter (Will Smith), a man who escapes from slavery, relying on his wits, unwavering faith and deep love for his family to evade cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his quest for freedom….”

There’s a part in the trailer where Smith’s character, Peter, says: I will not be afraid” and “What can a mere man do to me.” That immediately brought to my mind Bible verses that use similar phrasing. So I was intrigued — not only was “Emancipation” a historical narrative, I thought, but faith might also have a central role.

And according to what director Antoine Fuqua and and actor Will Smith have said, faith is very much a huge part of the “Emancipation” movie.

But before we get into Peter and digging out the faith angle, we should acknowledge a few things:

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Nicola A. Menzie
Nicola A. Menzie
Nicola A. Menzie a religion reporter whose bylines have appeared on the websites of the Religion News Service, The Christian Post, CBS News and Vibe magazine. Nicola is the Managing Editor at You can find her on Twitter @namenzie. Email: nicola.menzie (at)

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