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Saturday, March 08, 2014

12 Years A Slave Shows A Side Of Slavery I Never Heard About

Last night Lulu and I considered going out to the movies. We wanted to see a few Academy Award winning pictures. "12 Years A Slave" captured my fantasy. Since I now live in the Deep South  - the land of plantations - cotton - live oak trees - and lastly slavery. 

I was really surprise when I tuned to DirecTV to find out that "12 Years A Slave " was available as a pay per view movie for $6.00. Instead of driving to the Tallahassee Square Mall - paying $9.00 a person - and sitting elbow to elbow with the unwashed masses - I could enjoy the movie in my living room with a refrigerator full of snacks. I could even turn the volume as loud as I wished. 

I thought I knew a lot about slavery from all of the history lessons I sat through - and all the brown signs I have stopped at along the highway. This story never crossed my ears. We have all heard of the Underground Railroad - where slaves were sneaked north through Pennsylvania - New York - and Maryland to Canada. The story is the Ying to that stories Yang. 

Soloman Northup was a free black man living in Saratoga in upstate New York. He owned a nice home - had the perfect family - could read and write - and was a talented violinist. Although free blacks could not vote up North - they could eat in the same restaurants - shop in the same stores - and drink in the same bars as whites. Since Northup was literate - he could write the tales of his journey  into hell. 

Two white merchants came to Saratoga and offered Northup a huge sum of money to play his violin  for the circus for a month or so. They all went to Washington - and wined and dined at some of the top places - close to the national's capitol. After a night of merriment - he was drugged and bonded. He was placed on a ship and taken to the slave markets in New Orleans.

From there he was traded to several different owners. He cut sugar cane - picked cotton - and after it was discovered he could play the violin - he became a house slave. 

This picture won Academy Awards for best movie - best supporting actress - and best adapted screen play. I was really surprised to see that it was on pay per view already. 

With all the perilous scenes from this story - I will never again look at slavery in the classic - boat from Africa view. There should be a special place in hell for the hate filled owners of slaves. People of the South love to whitewash this story like it never happened. Blacks are still suffering from the hatred of slavery.

This week is the grand opening of Cascades Park just down the street from our home. In that park is the hanging tree - legend has it that many lynch mobs put that tree to "bad"  use. A few hundred yards away is a replica of the ghost town of Smokey Bottom - a black community that was torn down for urban progress. Keep in mind that Tallahassee is the only Deep South capital not captured by the Yankees - the locals love to tell you that. There is the foundation of a civil war fort - about 2 blocks away from our home. The fort was placed there to ward off a Yankee invasion. All of this gives this movie about slavery more meaning to me. 

I will not tell you how Northup escaped from this peril - but as soon as he was free again - he wrote the  book that was turned into this movie. 

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