Lunch lecture: 12 Years a Slave

November 15, 2013

Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Location: President's Dining Room (in Student Center)

12 Years a Slave

The real Solomon Northup and his times

Thanks to the powerful new film 12 Years a Slave by British director Steve McQueen, Solomon Northup is about to become a household name again. As portrayed in the film, Northup – a free black in New York State – was kidnapped into slavery in 1841 and spent 12 years working in the brutal cotton and sugar plantation regime of Louisiana. Freed in 1853, he told his story in the autobiography Twelve Years a Slave, on which the film is based.

But there is a great deal more to Northup's story: the dangerous and troubling circumstances facing free blacks in the pre-Civil War North, their widespread kidnapping into slavery, and the efforts of Northup and his fellow abolitionists to tell his story and to help rebuild his life after slavery. Northup travelled widely for the antislavery cause in the 1850s, recounting his experiences to rapt audiences and peddling his autobiography, which was second only to Frederick Douglas' as an antislavery best-seller.

Join UDM Professor of History Roy E. Finkenbine for a lunch-and-learn event aimed at exploring Northup's story and discussing the film and its impact. Finkenbine has written and spoken about Northup and recently rediscovered the efforts of abolitionists to obtain compensation from Congress for his time in slavery – what might be labeled the first campaign for federal reparations for slavery.

This is one of several events this academic year to be sponsored by the Black Abolitionist Archives, which seeks to promote research, conversation and understanding about race, slavery, antislavery and the Underground Railroad in America's past.

Feel free to bring your lunch and join the conversation. Light refreshments will also be available.

Fee: Bring your lunch if you wish

RSVP: Unnecessary

Contact: Roy E. Finkenbine, professor of History
Phone: 313-993-1016