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’12 Years a Slave’ Memoir and Film to be Taught in Public Schools Nationwide

12 Years a Slave to be brought into public schools  The historical biopic “12 Years a Slave” was a hit at the box office and dominated award season, but the story’s latest honor may be the most impactful one yet.

The National School Boards Association is partnering with Penguin Books, New Regency and producers of “12 Years a Slave” to bring the film into classrooms across the nation.

The NSBA is preparing to have copies of the film, the memoir that inspired the film, and even a study guide to accompany the works distributed throughout public high schools.

It will still be up to individual districts to decide whether or not they will include the works in their own curriculums.

“This gives high school teachers a lot of options, so they can decide how they can fit it in with the curricula they’re teaching,” said Tom Gentzel, executive director of the NSBA. “[Slavery] is an important topic, and it’s an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

The film’s director, Steve McQueen, was excited to hear that the book and movie would be welcomed into high schools .

“Since first reading ’12 Years a Slave’ it has been my dream that this book be taught in schools,” McQueen said.

The film follows a free man living in New York, Solomon Northup, who was abducted and sold into slavery.

Some parents and viewers have already expressed concerns over some of the more graphic images in the film, but educators and the film’s director believe it’s more important to provide an honest account of the story, rather than sugarcoat a dark past.

“Either we’re telling a story about slavery or we’re not,’ McQueen said back in January when critics called his film “torture porn.” “And I wanted to tell a story about slavery. But, I think, it’s not as violent as most films you’ll see at the weekend in the cinema, far from it.”

The funding for distributing the film and books to all the schools is being provided by TV personality Montel Williams, who believed it was vital that this work found its way into classrooms as soon as possible.

’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,” Williams said. “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.”

The NSBA expects to have all films and books distributed to the high schools by the beginning of the next school year.

What people are saying

6 thoughts on “’12 Years a Slave’ Memoir and Film to be Taught in Public Schools Nationwide

  1. I do not like, that this film will be going to our black children's schools. What will be the purpose it will serve? Just the title is decieving, most African people who were held as a slave, were held their whole lifetime, hardly any of our people were held twelve years, and if any gain their freedom, they had to buy it, or someone else bought it. I have not seen the movie and do not plan to see it, unless I am asked to critique it. My take on the movie, just the title desensitize the horror of black people being held as slaves, it was a lifetime of misery. From what I gather the movie does not come close to showing all the other crimes that were commited against black people. The torture, the beatings, the wearing of hooks, and chains, face covering out in those hot fields working all day some without proper food and water, to name a few. No, I do not see where this film will serve any useful purpose for our black students, they need to know the whole truth about slavery of our people, and there are those whites who are not sorry for what their race did to black people, and if they could many of them would attempted to hold us again. Montel Williams is pushing this matter, I would like to ask him, what purpose will this serve? The film does not show the truth about black people being held as slaves. I believe, the movie focus point, is not about black people in slavery, but what the black man accomplished after slavery. is that right? It is like saying to us, "Well you see, they were in slavery, but ….. but … look what he accomplished, after those twelve years, was it worth it"? Hell no.

  2. Guercy Elan says:

    Please people get Hidden Colors 2 instead. I don't need the trauma and have people say to get over slavery.

  3. Grady Nelson says:

    Black people have had too much slave education. We all know about slavery, and if blacks don't know by now they should. Black children need more positive role models that depict our real history…The kings and queens, the mathmaticians, astrologist, physicians, ect. Our history did not start with slavery, our history was just "interrupted" by slavery!

  4. Brad Baylis says:

    Yeah,especially to those "Re-Thuglican"/'Tea Bagger" a**holes who are attempting to-LITERALLY-whitewash slavery from U.S. textbooks.(My great-great grandfather was an escaped Maryland slave.)

  5. Dina M. Izzo says:

    how can you speak about what this film does or does not do having not seen it? How can you it does not convey the horror of slavery because it was ONLY twelve years, not a lifetime. See the film, THEN decide.

  6. Karen Allen says:

    @ Dina the movie was watered down ,read the book

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