‘Emancipation’ Producer Responds To Backlash After Bringing ‘Whipped Peter’ Photo To Red Carpet Premiere

“I wholeheartedly apologize to everyone I have offended,” Joey McFarland said in an Instagram post.

Emancipation producer Joey McFarland is apologizing after he faced heavy criticism for bringing a photo of ‘Whipped Peter’ to the film's movie premiere on Nov. 30.

The photo also known as “The Scourged Back” is the inspiration behind the movie which stars Will Smith, where he plays an escaped enslaved person named Peter, also known as 'Whipped Peter,' because of the whipped markings on his back, was one of the many catalysts of the abolition movement.

“I wholeheartedly apologize to everyone I have offended by bringing a photograph of Peter to the Emancipation premiere,” McFarland posted on Instagram. “My intent was to honor this remarkable man and to remind the general public that his image not only brought about change in 1863 but still resonates and promotes change today.”

RELATED: 'Emancipation' Producer Walks Red Carpet With ‘Whipped Peter’ Photo, Faces Criticism

RELATED: 5 Things To Know About 'Whipped Peter' The Enslaved Man ‘Emancipation’ Is Based On

“After uncovering Peter’s origin story with help from diligent historians, I spent the last few years working with the Emancipation creative team in order to bring his story to life so worldwide audiences would have an opportunity to appreciate his heroism,” he explained. “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.”

Later adding, “These photographs, which existed before me, will be around long after I am gone; they belong to the world. My goal has always been to find the right permanent home and make sure they are accessible, to honor their significance. And most importantly, that the individuals depicted in the photographs are remembered and their stories are told with the greatest dignity and respect.”

During the red carpet premiere, McFarland told The Hollywood Reporter that he chose to bring the photograph known as The Scourged Back to the premiere so “a piece of Peter” would be with him at the premiere.

“So many people look at this photo and they use it as an emblem of slavery,” McFarland shared. “It’s a human being. What is his story? Who are his family? What happened to him? So for me it was a deep dive. I hired a great deal of historians; we went deep into the archives and found his identity, we found his backstory, we pieced it together.”

Emancipation is currently playing in theaters and will be available for streaming on Apple TV+ on Friday (Dec. 9).

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