When 12 year old Sue reached for a book on the library shelf in her father's Louisiana plantation home, she had no idea it would lead to a lifetime of remarkable achievements and one of the most amazing stories ever told.
Sue went on to become Dr. Sue Eakin: author, civil rights activist, historian, and prestigious award winner. The book she had selected was called "Twelve Years a Slave" about the kidnapping of free man Solomon Northrup who was sold into slavery and endured 12 years of abuse before being rescued. Dr. Eakin's story is as captivating as Northrup's but is not as well known; the book has been made into a major motion picture which has won three Academy Awards (including Best Picture), a Golden Globe for Best Picture, and many more.
"12 Years a Slave" was written in 1853 but had literally disappeared off the shelves by the early twentieth century. Stores no longer carried copies and it was a forgotten memoir of history. Then Sue Eakin discovered a copy and eventually it became her master's thesis. She collected pictures, documents, maps, and more to confirm the Northrup story. As she worked, she also wrote over a dozen history books, worked on civil rights, and won awards. Finally, in 1968, the first authenticated edition was released and, in 2007, Dr. Eakin completed the final "definitive" edition; she was 88 years old.
She was a popular college professor, founded and directed world conferences, served on several boards as directors or a member, and travelled the United States on lecture series. She was a columnist, a journalist, a recognized historian, and was dedicated to equality for all persons.
Dr. Eakin died at the age of 90 in 2009. Her archives are going to be donated to the Smithsonian Institute for a permanent exhibit. Without little Sue Eakins selecting a dusty old book from a shelf and her love for reading, America may have never heard of the amazing story or been able to see this captivating film.
To learn more about Dr. Eakin, click HERE
To learn more on the story of 12 Years a Slave, click HERE