An abolitionist whose memoir, 12 Years A Slave, inspired the 2013 film of the same name. Solomon Northup’s life and experience shows that the crime of slavery in the United States was a danger to anyone of African descent. Born free in the state of New York, he spent much of his life as a farmer and inspiring violinist until he was drugged and sold into slavery while in rout to Washington D.C. (at the time the Nation's biggest slave market) where he was offered a job to perform. After his kidnapping he was sent to New Orleans and spent twelve years in Louisiana as a slave. He was sold to William Prince Ford, then to John M. Tibaut (who Northup disliked the most), and lastly to Edwin Epps for ten years. During his time at the Epps plantation, Northup encountered Samuel Brass, a Canadian man who gained his trust and helped in his freedom. After being freed Northup spent the rest of his life campaigning for the end of slavery in the United States leaving behind his memoir that become a contribution to the abolitionist movement. His memoirs are praised for their detail and brutal honesty. While Northup did not live to see the end of slavery in the United States his works and story still lives on and have been used as examples of the harshness of the slave trade in the United States amongst other struggles facing people of African descent.
Denise Nicholas July 12, 1944 to Present
An American actor and writer, Denise Nicholas has spent much of her life as an activist join acting companies that catered to rural African Americans in the hopes of providing the experience of live performances to these communities. Such companies including the Free Southern Theater and the Negro Ensemble Company. While she would gain international fame for her performance in the series Room 222, she never stopped advocating for social justice. In 2005, she published her first novel Freshwater Road that used the Civil Rights Movement as a backdrop with some of her experiences also being an influence. While she is not currently active in the current entertainment industry her legacy lives on through her novel.
Medgar Evers July 2, 1925 to July 12, 1963
A student of considerable degree and a veteran of the Second World War, Medgar Evers lived in one of the worst states in the south during the period of Jim Crow and pre-Civil Rights reforms. Born and raised in Mississippi, Evers spent much of his life jeered and prodded by the socially accepted racist behavior of the state. Being forced to go to a school further away than where he lived, he was often exposed to the cruelty of the social divide between Black and white Americans, mostly conducted school peers. After serving in the Second World War, Evers started to take a more active role in dismantling racist practices in his state by joining the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) were his leadership would shove him to the for front of the growing Civil Rights Movement. One of the biggest protests that he led and organized was against the University of Mississippi, which rejected him on the grounds of his race. The University of Mississippi faced backlash on an international level from the work of Evers and his allies. Unfortunately, Evers did not live to see the fruits of his and many others’ labors when he was assassinated in the wake of President Kennedy’s civil rights address. While not as well-known as Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers is still remembered to this day as a strong leader in his state of Mississippi.