SARATOGA SPRINGS – The seventeenth annual Solomon Northup day takes place Saturday, July 18, in Filene Recital Hall at Skidmore College from noon to 4 p.m. To celebrate the free event, there will be speeches, musical performances and more.
Solomon Northup is now known universally due to the 2013 film based on his memoirs, “Twelve Years a Slave.” Born a free man in New York, Northup was lured away from his home in Saratoga Springs in 1841 by two men who convinced him to travel to Washington, D.C. to play the violin in their circus. Once there, Northup was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. He did not regain his freedom again until 1853, after suffering years of abuse in the slave trade.
Skidmore graduate Renee Moore, a project and community outreach coordinator, originated Solomon Northup Day in 1999 to raise awareness of his captivating and tragic story.
The keynote speaker for this year’s event is Cheryl J. LaRoche, Ph.D., an archaeologist and American studies professor at the University of Maryland in College Park. She is the author of “Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance” and has been a consultant for the National Park Service, the Smithsonian and other museums.
Don Papson, co-founder and past president of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, will also be speaking. He is co-author of “Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City” and won a 2012 leadership award from the Underground Railroad Free Press.
Music is an important part of Solomon Northup Day, as he was a gifted violinist. Performing this year is Jazzage, featuring native of Saratoga Carol Daggs singing and playing piano, James Daggs on double bass, and Billy Arnold on percussion.
Books by LaRoche and Papson and CDs by Jazzage will be on sale at the event. For more information, visit skidmore.edu/solomon-northup-day/.