What is law? The dictionary defines it as a system of rules that a community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may be enforced by the imposition of penalties. Are they supposed to be perfect? No. But quoting civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “an unjust law is no law at all”, proves that there is more to the legal system than just regulating it. The civil rights movement played a huge role in American culture. It opened the public’s perceptions on how there are some elementary social rights and equality rights that needed to be encountered in order for justice to be truthful. Through analysis of present day motion pictures that stem from American history such as “12 Years A Slave” and “Fruitvale Station” reveals some of the legal and ethical concerns that are prominent today can be revealed: Historically law has been altered but the integrity of the law still remains in question.
Let’s start with some of the issues that were brought about in the film “12 Years A Slave”. After viewing the movie twice, not only did it show that slavery was prominent (1841) but also that the rights of a human were being violated. The main scenario in the film was that there was an African American man (Solomon Northup) who was a free man in America. He lived in Saratoga, New York with his family. The reason why that is important is because New York was a non-slave state. His profession at that time was being an entertainer because of his talents of the violin. His talents not only fed his family but also took him on a twelve year journey where he fights every day to survive as a slave.
The first injustice that was brought to the viewers’ attention occurred when Solomon Northup was kidnapped and abducted against his own will while attending a dinner with potential business partners. This is important because during that time there were a lot of instances where free African American citizens from the north were being captured and brought to the south to be auctioned off as slaves. Their identities were stripped and they were beaten until they were mentally broken to the point where they believed they were a run away slave from a southern state. At that time slaves had no rights and were treated as property. According to Jenny B. Wahl (1996), from 1820 to 1860 there were over an estimated two hundred thousand slaves per decade that were moved from the upper south states like Washington and Virginia, to the lower southern states such as Mississippi, and Louisiana. The migration of all the slaves took place through trade rather than moving them. (pg. 143) In comparison slaves were just as respected as livestock. The devaluation of the slaves’ life showed that there were some problems pertaining to the virtuous side of the law.
The importance of this movie showed that even though you were a free man you still had to prove you freedom. And the way that any African American had to do this is by having...