The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is partnering with New Regency, Penguin Books, and the filmmakers to distribute copies of the acclaimed film, book, and study guide 12 Years a Slave to America’s public high schools.
The initiative, coordinated by Montel Williams, will start to distribute 12 Years a Slave nationwide in September 2014 in concert with the new school year. It is modeled against an initiative Williams launched to distribute the Civil War film Glory to public high schools that ultimately led to The Montel Williams Show.
“12 Years a Slave is one of the most impactful films in recent memory, and I am honored to have been able to bring together Fox Searchlight and National School Boards Association to maximize its educational potential. When Hollywood is at its best, the power of the movies can be harnessed into a powerful educational tool. 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, and I’m proud to be a part of that,” said Williams.
“Since first reading ’12 Years a Slave,’ it has been my dream that this book be taught in schools. 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,” said Steve McQueen, director of 12 Years a Slave.
12 Years a Slave is an award-winning film that depicts the harrowing tale of a New York State-born free black man kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. This groundbreaking film won this year’s Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Picture, the PGA Award for Best Picture, the BAFTA Award for Best Film and is nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture of the Year.
“The National School Boards Association is honored to partner with Fox Searchlight Pictures and Penguin Books to ensure that every public high school student in America has the opportunity to stare the stark realities of slavery in the eye through books and film,” said NSBA President David A. Pickler. “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.”
Williams also has joined NSBA as a celebrity spokesperson in its Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign that showcases the great things happening in America’s public schools.
“We appreciate the strong initiative by the producers of ‘12 Years a Slave’ and Montel Williams to bring this vividly accurate, award-winning documentary to America’s public high schools,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Allowing students to see the tragic circumstances and messages conveyed through these works are vital to learning and reflection on our nation’s era of slavery.”