Twelve Years A Slave

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Another beautiful day in the mountains. So beautiful in fact that I didn’t mind accompanying Mulva on her daily pilgrimage to the Walmart. We were lucky enough to be babysitting little Trey today. We took him along to see if there was some new goo gaw or bauble that he might be interested in. His birthday is just around the corner.

There’s nothing like enjoying the wonder of Walmart through a toddler’s eyes. Trey’s mouth was open so much of the time I was afraid he’d catch a fly. I bought him a licorice stick to help him keep it closed, at least part of the time. I caught the dickens for the mess it made of his outfit. When we got back to TackyToo, Trey got to run around like “Tarzan” while Mulva washed his clothes. Mulva always likes to leave things better than we found them, and Trey was looking a little ragged.

In my defense, Trey was having trouble helping me concentrate on the movie selection for this week’s date night. The $2.99 movie barrel was picked over again, and I had to continue to “dumpster dive” the various price points until I found a winner. Finally I found a movie in the $9.99 bin that I thought would be a sure thing. I chose “12 Years A Slave“. Mulva raised an eyebrow in my direction as the checkout girl stopped checking us out to read the cover of the movie. In  these parts you don’t know if someone is interested in a movie about slavery as a historical reference, or a “how to” documentary. Since the checkout girl had two pink stripes in her hair, I was guessing she was interested in the movie for its artistic merits. She checked us out without comment, so I guess we’ll never know.

12 Years A Slave” did not play at any of the theaters in our neck of the woods. We would have had to drive to Gainesville or closer to Atlanta to see the movie on the big screen. I can’t say that the owners of the Bijou in Blairsville did not select the movie for showing because they felt like it would only attract a black audience. Only one percent of the population of Union county is black. Maybe it was that the Bijou owners felt like the movie was too controversial. Most of the folks in this area think that if “reparations” are to be paid, that it should be the slave owners receiving payment for the loss of property, not the slave for the loss of their freedom.

I don’t know how folks can look at their children or their grandchildren and not get the horror of slavery. The horror of this incidence of slavery is compounded by the fact that the hero, Solomon Northup, was not born into slavery. Northup was a free man, living in Saratoga Springs, N.Y, earning his living as a musician. He was enticed to play music in Washington, D.C., where he was kidnapped by slave traders and sold down South to a plantation in Louisiana. All of his protestations only heaped more pain on his existence, and so he learned that he had to “go along to get along”. Hiding intelligence is a very hard thing to do, and Northup was repeatedly punished for outshining his captors. Eventually Northup is able to get through to a visitor to the plantation that he, Northup, is not where he’s supposed to be. Help finally arrives and Northup is returned to his family, after twelve years.

Northup’s true story became the book that led to the movie. Research done by the film makers proved the historical accuracy of the book. It is a compelling story that underlines the old saying, “There but for the grace of God, go I”, which Northup never had to question in his old life. I wondered quite a bit in the movie if Northup had thought about his life in New York in contrast to the slaves in the Southern states. Did he identify at all, or did he think the slaves were “them”, and not “us”. I may have to re watch to satisfy my curiosity.

12 Years A Slave” was financially and artistically a major success. It won three Academy Awards, Best Movie, Best Director and Best Actor. The movie boasts a cast of fine actors, both newcomers, and established stars. Oh, and Brad Pitt is in it.

Based off of current events, what with the racism at the Trump rallies and the elimination of slavery from our history books, maybe “12 Years A Slave” should be required viewing for middle schools everywhere. It might help dispel some of the propaganda being spewed now. Just a thought.

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