Fox Searchlight's '12 Years a Slave' Will Be Taught in U.S. High Schools

Fox Searchlight's '12 Years a Slave' Will Be Taught in U.S. High Schools

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Friday, September 19, 2014 - 4:00pm

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Through a partnership with the National School Boards Association, New Regency, and Penguin Books, Fox Searchlight announced this week that it will distribute copies of 12 Years a Slave, winner of Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards, to public high schools around the U.S. Director Steve McQueen and television personality Montel Williams organized the initiative as a way of educating young people about the "brutal truths" of American history.

"When Hollywood is at its best, the power of the movies can be harnessed into a powerful education tool," Williams said in a press release. "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 of a better and brighter future."

Teachers hoping to include the film in their curricula can request an "Educator's Toolkit" by visiting The toolkit contains a DVD copy of the film edited for teen audiences, with a disclaimer and parental consent forms, as well as a Penguin paperback copy of Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir on which the film was based, a detailed study guide, and a letter from McQueen.

"Solomon Northup's powerful story needs to be shared and remembered for generations to come," said McQueen. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our youth to learn about the past."

A launch event will take place on September 25 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., honoring the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. McQueen, Williams, and NSBA representative David Pickler will participate in a town hall moderated by political analyst Michelle Bernard to discuss their plans to make 12 Years A Slave and Solomon Northrup's memoir essential components of the high school history curriculum.

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CATEGORY: Education