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Skidmore College

Solomon Northup's story resonates in contemporary America

March 12, 2014

The tale of Solomon Northup will be discussed by scholars from Skidmore and Union colleges in a presentation scheduled Wednesday, March 19, at Skidmore’s Wilson Chapel.

The program, which is scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m., will feature Rachel Seligman, assistant director for curatorial affairs and associate curator at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, and Clifford Brown, Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Government at Union College, talking about the significance of the Northup story for contemporary America.

The two collaborated with David A. Fiske, former senior librarian at the New York State Library, to write Solomon Northup:  The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave, published in 2013 by Praeger. Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., historical advisor to the Academy Award-winning film, hailed the book as “indispensible” to his work on the 12 Years a Slave movie. He said, “Fiske, Brown, and Seligman’s Solomon Northup is the best current biography available. The facts they have uncovered are invaluable—the living descendants they have identified, precious.”

The film earned Oscars for “best picture,” “best supporting actress,” and “best adapted screenplay” at the March 2 Academy Awards.

Seligman, a 1991 Skidmore graduate, has long been interested in the Northup story, having developed an exhibition on Northup while she was director and curator at Union College's Mandeville Gallery. Read more here.

Admission to the March 19 program is free and open to the public. Sponsors are the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the Office of Student Diversity Programs, InterGroupRelations, and the departments of American Studies, History, Philosophy and Religion, and Sociology.

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