“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” –Nelson Mandela
In 1841, a 32 year-old free black violinist from New York named Solomon Northup is kidnapped, bound and sold into slavery for $650. In 1853, he escapes. He then writes a book chronicling his enslavement called 12 Years A Slave. In 2013, his book becomes a movie. In 2014, the movie wins the Academy Award for Best Picture of the year.
There is a scene in the movie that has stayed with me several months after first seeing the movie. It takes place shortly after Solomon suffers yet another horror at the hands of a vicious slave-owner. After it is over, Solomon stares out into the Louisiana landscape, baffled as to how he, a man born free, could have ended up a slave. His expression is one of pain, suffering, exhaustion, defeat, but most of all, disbelief. How can this horror exist? And how can we have held on to this horror for so long?
For two-hundred and forty-six years, slavery legally existed in the United States of America. On December 6, 1865, three-fourths of U.S. states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment and 4 million slaves in America were set free. READ MORE