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Oxford academics discuss history of slavery on show

FILM: Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years A Slave

ACADEMICS AND historians from the University of Oxford talk about the culture of slavery on a TV show following the critical success of film 12 Years A Slave.

The BBC Culture Show special, which is currently available to view on the iPlayer, features a group of experts who talk about what it would have been like to have lived as a black person in that era in America.

The show comes after the wide success of British director Steve McQueen’s film, which is tipped to win best film at the Oscars in March.

Presented by film critic Mark Kermode, the TV show explores the history and culture of slavery in the States, and includes Oxford academic Jay Sexton, deputy director of the Rothermere American Institute.

He said: “To be a free black in the northern states would be much better than being a slave in the south, but there would be all sorts of limitations – both legal and political.”

Also featured in the programme is Richard Blackett of Vanderbilt University, who added: “Kidnapping was a major issue in mid 19th-century America.

“One can't quantify how many people were kidnapped, but a considerable number of free black people were kidnapped and sold into slavery.”

12 Years A Slave has portrayed the issue like no other film before and tells the true story of a black citizen born free, but later kidnapped and sold into slavery to work in plantations.

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