September 18, 2014

Higher Learning: “12 Years A Slave” Headed To High Schools

12 Years a Slave

Many often say that the younger generation does not realize the impact that slavery had on the American culture.

Now, students may have to face the reality of slavery by seeing it first-hand in the Academy Award-winning feature film “12 Years a Slave.”

Fox Searchlight has revealed that it has partnered with New Regency, Penguin Books and the makers of “12 Years a Slave” to work with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to make copies of the acclaimed film, book, and study guide for the film available to America’s public high schools.

Steve McQueen

This nationwide educational initiative was the brainchild of director Steve McQueen and Montel Williams, and now 12 Years a Slave educator tool kits are available to all public high school teachers timed to the 2014-15 school year.

Educators who gain permission to teach “12 Years a Slave” to their students will receive a free kit which includes: a DVD copy of the film (edited version with disclaimer/parental consent requested); a paperback copy of the Penguin book; the “12 Years a Slave” printed study guide; and a letter from McQueen.

Montel Williams

Any U.S. public high school teacher with permission to add this to the high school curriculum may go to and click on the button for teachers to opt in and request an educators’ toolkit for their school.

“I am thrilled that my dream of having ’12 Years a Slave’ available to high school students is finally a reality. Solomon Northup’s powerful story needs to be shared and remembered for generations to come. This is a wonderful opportunity for our youth to learn about the past. I truly appreciate the efforts of Montel Williams, the National School Boards Association, New Regency, Penguin Books, and Fox Searchlight for making this happen,” said the film’s director McQueen.

“When I first saw the film, it was clear to me that it could be a teaching tool in high schools. I see it as a way for teachers to make the issue of slavery, the brutal truths of which are all too common in the world today in some places.  Slavery is a worldwide problem and even in the U.S. children are abducted and sold into slavery.  This film vividly conveys the evils of slavery. By giving teachers one more tool to start discussions and through education and awareness our kids can dream big about a brighter future for the world,” expressed talk show host Williams.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”

“12 Years a Slave” won Best Motion Picture of the Year, as well as Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards.  The movie 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 proceeded to win over 132 awards this past year.

Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a not-for-profit organization representing state associations of school boards and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Working with and through our state associations, NSBA advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership.

Scene from “12 Years a Slave”


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