GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Newton Knight was a hero to some, but a traitor to others.
In the new Civil War drama movie 'Free State of Jones', Academy Award winning actor Mathew McConaughey plays Knight.
Knight was a farmer in Jones County who opposed southern secession and slavery. He enlisted in the Confederate army and later deserted. After forming the Knight Company, Knight carried out raids on Confederate forces.
"To me, he stood up as a man, as someone who followed what he believed in. It was something God put in him and he stood up," said Tremayne Barnett.
After the war, Knight married one of his grandfather's former slaves, a woman named Rachel; setting in motion generations of mixed race descendants.
Barnett and his mother Anna Knight Cook of Gulfport are proud descendants of Newt Knight.
"We didn't know too much about this when we were coming up. Back then people didn't talk about all this; who your relatives were and all that stuff," said Cook.
Just seeing the story on the big screen is going to be special. The family says they will be thinking of Anna's daughter, who did so much research on the family tree and was going to be in the movie if not for her untimely death.
"There's going to be some tears. The tears will flow because of my aunt who passed away last year. She spearheaded this and she was going to be in the movie. It's going to be very emotional," Barnett said.