News Release

UDM Black Abolitionist Director Discusses: “12 Years A Slave” and the real Solomon Northup

University of Detroit Mercy Professor of History Dr. Roy E. Finkenbine will discuss the film “12 Years A Slave” on Nov. 15, 2013 at noon in the President's Dining Room of the Student Center Building on the McNichols Campus.

The historical drama is an adaption of the 1853 Solomon Northup’s autobiography about a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup, along with his fellow abolitionists traveled for the antislavery cause in the 1850s. Northrup's autobiography was second only to Fredrick Douglass' as an anti-slavery best seller.

Finkenbine, the director of the Black Abolitionist Archives in the College of Liberal Arts & Education, has written and lectured about Northup and recently rediscovered the efforts of abolitionists to obtain compensation from Congress for his time in slavery, what might be labeled as the first campaign for federal reparations for slavery.  Finkenbine’s talk is one of several events 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.

At UDM, Finkenbine teaches African-American and nineteenth-century American history. A specialist on slavery, abolition, the Civil War, and the Underground Railroad, he is currently engaged in a study of the search for emancipation, citizenship and reparations through the experience of one prominent former slave.

Prior to joining UDM in 1996, he was the associate editor of the Black Abolitionist Papers Project at Florida State University. He recently completed a second edition of Sources of the African American Past and was recently reappointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission. Finkenbine received a Ph.D. degree from Bowling Green State University.

For more information, contact professor Roy E. Finkenbine at 313-993-1016 or by email at

Release date: November 01, 2013

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