Nat Turner’s Alleged Skull is Returned to His Descendants after 185 Years.

Nat Turner Remains
bottom image via National Geographic.

Despite the controversy surrounding the film, the release of Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation has sparked a new interest in the life, activism, and rebellion of Nat Turner.

In 1831, Turner led the bloodiest slave revolt in American history. The rebellion was suppressed in approximately 2 days by a local militia, but Turner managed to escape. Two months later he was captured, tried, and hanged from a tree in the town of Jerusalem, now modern-day Courtland, Virginia.

Over the years the story of Turner’s rebellion has taken on a life of its own. There is still a lot of speculation over what happened to his body after his death. For years, Turner’s descendants believed that his skull was in the possession of Richard Hatcher, a former mayor of Gary, Indiana. The skull had been donated to Hatcher at a 2002 charity gala for the Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Hatcher had been a major contributor and proponent of the institution.

Several of Turner’s descendants expressed interest in acquiring his remains while being interviewed for the National Geographic Studios documentary Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turner.

Shanna Batten Aguirre, a fourth generation descendant of Turner reached out to Hatch personally. Aguirre was honored, alongside other relatives, by Hatch at a private luncheon in Gary, Indiana. The family members were presented with the skull privately, and have no plans to display it in public.