Solomon Northup Lives Again!

Join the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation on Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 7PM for “An Evening with Solomon Northup” featuring living history re-enactor and photographer Clifford Oliver Mealy. Born a free man in 1808, Solomon Northup was an African American abolitionist and musician who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, while living with his family in Saratoga Springs. With the help of friends, Northup was rescued in 1853 and his story and experiences were the subject of his book, 12 Years a Slave, which was made into a movie in 2013.

Clifford Oliver Mealy as Solomon Northup, Image Courtesy of Clifford Oliver Mealy

During the virtual program, Cliff will discuss the adventures and obstacles from Northup’s perspective.  “It is an honor for me to portray Solomon Northup and to share his story. It is so important that we celebrate his memory and highlight the African American community of Saratoga Springs both past and present,” said Mealy. His volunteer work with his local library led him to the story of Solomon Northup. Encouraged by his colleagues at the Bureau of Historic Sites, he then found himself an amateur historian and re-enactor. He was recently appointed to the NYS Parks Commission (Saratoga Capital Region) because of his work in bringing history alive.

Although Cliff was born and raised in New York City, he has lived his entire adult life in rural upstate New York and has been a staple in the Greenwich community and surrounding areas. Cliff began his career in photography while serving in the U. S. Navy. The recent devastating fire of the historic building in downtown Greenwich is where Cliff’s photography studio was located.

“We are surprised and thankful that Cliff is willing to continue with this Black History Month program, considering the great loss he has experienced. We feel it is important to share the stories of our entire community. Saratoga Springs has a rich history that is more diverse than the spring waters, the grand hotels, and the Saratoga Race Course. It is the stories of all of those who lived, worked, and visited that make our history interesting,” said Samantha Bosshart, Executive Director. 

This virtual program will take place through Zoom and Facebook Live for a suggested donation of $10 or more and half of all proceeds will be donated to Cliff for his recovery efforts. For additional information or to register for the virtual program visit www.saratogapreservation.org or call (518) 587-5030. Everyone who pre-registers for this program will be emailed a Zoom link in advance and will receive a link to the recording. To learn about other diverse stories in Saratoga Springs, including last year’s Black History Month program “Saratoga Soul Brandtville Blues” with Carol Daggs, check out the Foundation’s YouTube page.

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