In July 1808, Solomon Northup, an accomplished violinist, and inventor, was born a free man in Minerva, New York. Mr. Northup lived and worked in Saratoga Springs with his family for part of his life. He worked at the landmark Grand Union Hotel as well as other hotels as a cabbie and violinist. Solomon was abducted in 1841, held in a slave pen in Washington, DC, and sold into slavery in Louisiana for 12 years.
Through the efforts of Canadian, Samuel Bass, both black and white citizens of Saratoga, Hudson Falls (Sandy Hill) and Louisiana were instrumental in restoring his freedom in 1853. A literate man Mr. Northup published his autobiography entitled Twelve Years a Slave, in 1853.
In 1999, in recognition of his life's work his ordeal and that of other African-Americans, native Saratogian, Renee Moore, founded Solomon Northup Day - A Celebration of Freedom. This historical and educational community event received recognition by the Library of Congress Bicentennial Local Legacies Project, in 2000.
An historical marker at the corner of Congress and Broadway marks the point of abduction and inside an exhibit panel at the Saratoga Visitor Center commemorates Mr. Northup's life.
Under the leadership of former Mayor J. Michael O'Connell(R) a historical marker was erected at the corner of Congress and Broadway.
Northup descendants from four states attend the event and,, until recently, matriarch Victoria Northup Linzy Dunham, lived to age 98, a California resident.
Although Mr. Northup sought to bring his captors to trial, they were never prosecuted and he mysteriously disappeared. To date, his burial site has not been identified and it is not known whether or not he was killed, re-captured, or died of natural causes.
In 2002, under the leadership of Mayor Ken Klotz(D), City Council, Saratoga approved Solomon Northup Day as an annual event the third Saturday in July.
In 2003, The Smithsonian Institution, Anacostia Museum, recognized the event as part of the Jubilee traveling exhibition and,
In 2007, The National Park Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program recognized this project, which takes place at the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center, venues throughout the City and Plattsburgh.
April 2013, Fox Searchlight (with Plan B Productions) contacts Founder, Renee Moore, for information concerning their need to contact actual descendants, before film release.
July 2013, Solomon Northup Day, co-directed by Renee Moore and Enid Mastrianni, at Skidmore College venue with actress Lupita N'yong'o and message from film director Steve McQueen.
October 2013, the story of Solomon Northup, 12 Years a Slave' was nominated for Best Picture and Lupita N'yong'o for Best Actress; winning the Oscar ( March 2014).
"The celebration of this day remains a way of 'remembering' so that we, as Americans don't forget how far we have come and to encourage youth to speak-up for human freedom and justice." R. Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-586-4329