Students studying the history of American slavery will have a new tool at their disposal this coming school year: 2013 Best Picture nominee "12 Years a Slave," which, along with its source material memoir, will be distributed to public high schools starting in September.
The National School Boards Association announced Monday that it had partnered with filmmakers and booksellers to bring the movie, Solomon Northup's autobiography, and study guide materials to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide. The initiative was coordinated by Montel Williams, who also spearheaded a similar effort to have 1989 Civil War film "Glory" shown in schools.
"When Hollywood is at its best, the power of the movies can be harnessed into a powerful educational tool," Williams said in a press release announcing the initiative. "This film uniquely highlights a shameful period in American history, and in doing so will evoke in students a desire to not repeat the evils of the past while inspiring them to dream big of a better and brighter future."
"Since first reading '12 Years a Slave,' it has been my dream that this book be taught in schools," said "12 Years" director Steve McQueen. "I am immensely grateful to Montel Williams and the National School Boards Association for making this dream a reality and for sharing Solomon Northup's story with today's generation."
"We believe that providing America's public high school students the opportunity to bear witness to such an unrelenting view of the evils of slavery is essential toward ensuring that this history is never forgotten and must never be repeated," said National School Boards Association president David A. Pickler.
"12 Years a Slave," which has already picked up multiple awards, including Best Picture honors from the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, is up for a Best Picture Oscar at this year's Academy Awards. The ceremony takes place March 2.
[via: NSBA, h/t First Showing]