Capitol, Slavery, and Frederick Douglass

Yesterday I watched 12 Years a Slave. It’s a good movie, but a difficult movie. I cried several times in the movie. I may say more about it, but not at this time.

There is a scene at the beginning of the movie that shows Solomon in prison, crying out for help, and the camera pans to the Capitol building. That was heartbreaking.

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Oh, the site where Solomon was held is the sight of Union Station. I was there every day when I was in DC and I had no idea. That makes me mad.

I want to end with Frederick Douglass’ famous quote on the singing slaves.

“I have often been utterly astonished, since I came to the north, to find persons who could speak of the singing, among slaves, as evidence of their contentment and happiness. It is impossible to conceive of a greater mistake. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. At least, such is my experience. I have often sung to drown my sorrow, but seldom to express my happiness. Crying for joy, and singing for joy, were alike uncommon to me while in the jaws of slavery. The singing of a man cast away upon a desolate island might be as appropriately considered as evidence of contentment and happiness, as the singing of a slave; the songs of the one and of the other are prompted by the same emotion.”

If you’ve never read The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, go read it. Now.

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