A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing 12 Years A Slave where I learned about the life of former slave Solomon Northrup.
12 Years A Slave was originally based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.
Solomon Northup was a free, Black, married, educated family man skilled as a musician and carpenter, living in Saratoga Springs, New York when in 1841 two white men approached him with a job offer as a fiddler in a traveling circus. There he was drugged by the men, held captive, severely beaten and sold into slavery in Louisiana. He was enslaved for more than a decade, enduring horribly violent conditions. Northup was freed in 1853 with help from colleagues and friends.
Historians state that Northup never really got the satisfaction of justice served, even though authorities apprehended his alleged kidnappers, Alexander Merrill and Joseph Russell. The kidnappers did spend seven months in jail, but the case ultimately collapsed. Among other things there were jurisdictional issues, and apathetic prosecution by a newly appointed district attorney.
Empathetic to the plight of slaves, documents show Northup almost certainly joined the Underground Railroad after his freedom— an illegal and extremely dangerous line of work, something that would sate his notable desire for adventure. He became a prolific speaker, joining Frederick Douglass and other major abolitionists in addressing Northeast audiences eager to hear his story first-hand. He became a top seller and later became an important public historical figure in the abolitionist cause.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film & I know you will too. It’s an important part of U.S. history and introduces us to some great new actors. This movie is sooo good that it is still playing in movie theaters across the country. Go see it today!