Over this past weekend, my wife and I watched a couple of recently-released movies, one of which was 12 Years a Slave. The movie received high acclaim and won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2013. The movie is based on a true story, and in my opinion, if watching it doesn’t evoke strong emotions in you, I doubt that any movie will.
The movie takes place in the mid 1800’s, when slavery was legal and widespread. As depicted in the movie, southern plantation owners forced their “property” to work long, hard hours picking cotton and harvesting sugar cane. The conditions and the way the plantation owners treated the slaves were beyond inhumane. The premise of the story revolves around Solomon Northrup, a free northern black man, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery; a common practice during that period of time. He is a very gifted musician, well educated, and has a wife and two children. I won’t spoil the movie by revealing any more information, but I highly recommend that you put this movie on your “must-watch-list”.
My reason for this post isn’t to critique the movie. Its purpose is to point out my aversion to the entire concept of slavery. It makes no difference whether or not the movie clearly and accurately portrays the life of Solomon Northrup. It is well documented that slaves like him were subjected to horrid conditions. Not only were they worked unmercifully, but many slave owners treated them sadistically and without even the slightest hint of empathy, mercy, or compassion. Slavery was one of the darkest shadows ever cast upon our country. And the mere thought of any human endorsing such a barbaric practice seems unimaginable.
Frankly, without trying to sound melodramatic, 12 Years a Slave made me feel ashamed to be a white man.