Academy Awards
11:27 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Solomon Northup's Descendant Expresses Pride For '12 Years A Slave'

The 86th annual Academy Awards is this Sunday, and one of the films expected to take home the Oscar is Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.”

The movie is about Solomon Northup and his 1853 memoir of the same name.

Northup, portrayed in the movie by Chiwetel Ejiofor, was born a free man with a family in New York but later was abducted and sold into slavery in Louisiana; he regained his freedom 12 years later.

The film has garnered nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor.

Despite Sunday night’s outcome, Northup’s great-great-great-grandson Clayton Adams told John Hockenberry on The Takeaway that he’s already received the gift of his own history.

“Having Solomon Northup’s story — which was left out of American history, not just African-American history for going on 200 years now — that in itself is pride enough that his story is finally being told worldwide,” Adams said.

Telling stories from African-American history is one of the passions of University of Washington English professor Colleen McElroy.

She's the author of nine poetry collections, including "Crossing Oceans,” which appears in her most recent collection, "Here I Throw Down My Heart."

“Crossing Oceans” paints a different picture from the traditional immigration scene that McElroy said she tunes out: "An interview with someone who says, ‘Yes, my grandfather came here with $4 in his pocket.’"

“I don’t want to hear the story again. It’s one side of a story for this country. It is not the story of this country,” McElroy said.

McElroy talked with KUOW’s poetry editor, Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen on February 1, 2013.

Produced for the Web by Akiko Oda.

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