“It was hard to watch, knowing it was someone who had a hand in creating me,” says Leonard Holton Jr., 28, a fourth great-grandson of Northup who lives in Alexandria, Va. Many in Northup’s direct lineage have known about their ancestor’s odyssey from an early age — he has been the subject of many a school project — and several return to his hometown of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., annually for the city’s Solomon Northup Day, which just celebrated its 15th year. Still, seeing their forefather’s ordeal writ large has stirred fresh emotions and renewed hopes that Northup’s story — and, by extension, the personal experience of all slaves — will not be forgotten.
“My high school friends never absorbed it too well: ‘Oh, I didn’t know it was like that,’ ” says Carol Adams-Sally, 72, of Waterloo, N.Y. “Oh please. All you had to do was open your eyes.” She can take heart that future generations in her own family and beyond now are paying attention
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