“Emancipation” producer Joey McFarland has issued an apology after bringing a photograph of a former slave to the movie’s premiere.

The man, who was known as “Whipped Peter”, served as much of the inspiration for the film, starring Will Smith.

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During a red carpet interview with Variety at the premiere, McFarland said, “I have the photo. This is the original photograph from 1863. I wanted a piece of Peter to be here tonight.”

Taking to Instagram to address criticism he received for bringing the photo, McFarland wrote, “I wholeheartedly apologize to everyone I have offended by bringing a photograph of Peter to the ‘Emancipation’ premiere. 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.”

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“I hope my actions didn’t distract from the film’s message, Peter’s story and just how much impact he had on the world,” the apology continued.

“Throughout the research and development of ‘Emancipation’, I discovered photographs of overlooked and historically important individuals whose stories also needed to be told. One photograph, of Martin Delaney, is on loan to the National Portrait Gallery and currently on exhibit. My plan was always to donate the photographs to the appropriate institution, in consultation with the community, and I believe there is no better time to begin that process than now.”