Twelve Years a Slave:’ Not Just a Movie

Over Christmas, I saw the new movie The Color Purple, which addresses themes about racial marginalization also included in another block-buster of a decade ago, Twelve Years a Slave. The earlier chronicles a free black man from up-state New York caught in slavery on southern plantations.

Coincidentally, Twelve Years a Slave is also the title of an 1853 article in a Universalist newspaper which recently caught my eye. While our Unitarian and Universalist ancestors frequently discussed slavery, surprisingly they did not uniformly oppose it. Perhaps their deeper ambiguity about racial justice influenced 20th-century UU challenges to racial equity, as in the Empowerment Controversy of the 1960s.