Local resident and native Saratogian Renee Moore began bringing attention to one
of Saratoga Springs
most famous residents, Solomon Northup in 1999. Renee Moore is the founder of
Solomon Northup Day. The Solomon Northup story, Twelve Years A Slave
has brought even more attention to our beloved
city when the movie by the same name won Best Picture at last years Academy
Even though the Visitors
copies of still photos from the film there are no artifacts that belong to the
family of Solomon Northup. Ms. Moore wrote to Plan B Productions (Brad Pitt’s
production company) who has legal rights to the film and respectfully requested
props from the film. Plan B productions never even responded to her letter.
There is only one historical marker for Solomon Northup, Saratoga
’s most famous African-American resident and it
stands in front of the Visitors
. Renee Moore,
founder of Solomon Northup day claims that there should be more. Ms. Moore
believes that there should be another marker in Congress
and perhaps a statue and much
more in our local Visitors
. I cannot help but
When I touch upon the often talked about graphic violence
that Twelve Years A Slave, I ask Ms.
Moore if she found the film difficult to get through?
“Difficult to get through? Only white people are shocked by
[graphic violence] it because they have no point of reference. The movie is
calm in comparison to the reality of it,” [slavery] said Moore
has seen the film three times.
As with most films, even with true stories the director/and
or writer fictionalizes certain aspects of the story for various reasons. I ask
about the accuracy of Steve McQueen’s (Director) picture and John Ridley’s
screenplay adaptation. Moore
had an issue with the fact that Solomon
Northup had three children in real life but only two in the film version. “By
leaving one child out you end up excommunicating a whole line of descendants.”
did like about the film was that it depicted the accuracy of how Northup was
rescued. He was rescued by Henry B. Northup, a lawyer in Hudson Falls, New York
(Sandy Hill in the movie) who was also the nephew of Northup’s former owner. Moore
thinks of the
rescue of Solomon by Henry Northup especially poignant. “Slave and Master
brought together by another generation are significantly important.”
Slavery is most often associated with the South but Moore
said that the Northern States including New York
complacent in their views about Slavery. “Wall Street was the financial center
of Slavery.” said Moore
there was an auction block at the South Street Seaport.
Citizen Nancy: Should 12 Years a Slave be required reading
in the Saratoga Springs
Ms. Moore: “It should be required reading everywhere.
On January 1st
1808 importation of slaves became
illegal but that only increased the likelihood of the abduction for freed
northern slaves. Many former slaves were abducted in the North by unscrupulous
white people looking to make money quickly and took advantage of blacks who
In spite of Ms. Moore founding Solomon Northup Day and
educating local Saratogian’s and others about the story of Solomon Northup, she
has never been paid to speak which is rather shocking considering that Ms.Moore is a graduate of Skidmore College. Moore
local luminaries for being supportive of her work for the community.
credits former Mayor J. Michael O'Connell who was the first Mayor to support the event. Former Mayor Ken Klotz, (who Moore
said was involved in the very early days of the Solomon Northup Day project),
current Mayor Joanne Yepsen, Accounts Commissioner John Franck, Finance
Commissioner Michele Madigan and former Senator Roy McDonald.
is also appreciative of Audrey Thomas and Barbara Thomas of the League of Women
After fifteen years of heading the Solomon Northup Day
decided it was ‘time to pass the gauntlet.’ Skidmore will be hosting it this
Professor Paul Calhoun,
Professor Timothy Harper and Rochelle Calhoun (no relation to Prof. Paul Calhoun)
will be in charge of the festivities that take place beginning July 19th
with a meet and greet of the descendants of Solomon Northup. It is free and
open to the public.
For more information please go to www.solomonnorthupday.com
began this project to show the history of Slavery and to ‘encourage young
people to work for freedom and justice throughout the world.’