After he was kidnapped and enslaved for 12 years, Solomon Northup gained back his freedom on January 3rd 1853, 161 years ago today.
His story was portrayed in the new film 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (pictured).
You can see a video of Northup’s living descendants here.
Also: We spoke to historian David Blight about the American slave trade, including the story of Solomon Northup. “We need to keep telling this story because it, in part, made us who we were,” he says.