No way after waiting [not really] patiently for months to see Solomon Northup’s narrative 12 Years a Slave on the big screen, could I avoid this post.
There are no movie spoilers revealed here. No details to offer or deep insights to expound upon. A timestamped narrative so horrific and explicit, it leaves little else to be said.
I cried through most of the movie. The only word to describe the emotion I felt leaving the theater — grief. Heavy, weighty, take your words away, grief.
Though I’ve yet to identify any pre-1865 free men among my Georgia or Alabama Ancestors, I could attach known Ancestors [and their plights] to on-screen incarnations, which made the entire 2 hours 13 minutes of enduring 12 Years A Slave painful.
My 10 year old Catie was there, being donated to Rev. James DICKEY as he journeyed to Wilkes County, Georgia; removed from her family and all things familiar. As the church’s property, did [or could] anyone protect an innocent Catie from the rape assault of a master or cruelty of a mistress?
Grandpa Philip was among the dirty, weary men returning from a day of picking cotton, only to find his wife and children sold by Master CARTER. There was no solace offered him, only a command/warning to choose another woman. How did Phil carry his new burden and shame back to the field when the sun came up? How did he live with his loss an additional 65 years AFTER he was emancipated? Could true peace or freedom ever be found?
And at the end of the noose — which was the most painful of all to witness — was my Grandpa James in 1885. Dressed in the same brogans and dread, knowing he’d never again see his wife Catie, their children and soon to be born child, a son named Elbert WINGFIELD. Was the defeat on his face met with a prayer on his lips? God have mercy… I hope so!
12 Years A Slave was EVERYTHING it promised — cruel, unforgiving and offering no way out.
It was the daily, seemingly never-ending, experience of my/our Ancestors.
“I Don’t Want To Survive. I Want to Live” ~ Solomon Northup