UIowa Law Prof Researches Slaves Suing Their Masters, as In "12 Years a Slave"
Source Newsroom: University of Iowa
The upcoming movie “12 Years A Slave” is generating Oscar buzz for its unsparing portrait of a free black man kidnapped into slavery, and who later sued his captors in court.
Lea VanderVelde, a law professor at the University of Iowa, knows about cases like Solomon Northup’s. She is an expert on so-called “freedom suits,” lawsuits brought by slaves in the antebellum south against their masters seeking their freedom. Few people know that slaves used the courts to attempt to win their freedom, but Vandervelde has studied more than 300 of them, some of which were successful. She’s written about her research in a new book, “Redemption Songs,” which will be published in the spring by Oxford University Press:
More information about her freedom suit research is also available online at