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12 Years a Slave to be part of public high school curriculum

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MUMBAI: The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is partnering with New Regency, Penguin Books, and the filmmakers to distribute copies of the film, book and study guide of the acclaimed motion picture, 12 Years a Slave to America’s public high schools.

The initiative, coordinated by Montel Williams, host of The Montel Williams Show, one of the longest tabloid talk shows in recent times, 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.

In a press release Montel said, “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 maximise 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.”

“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 the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama, the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Picture, the Producers’ Guild Association (PGA) Award for Best Picture, the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Film and is nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture of the Year.

According to the press release, NSBA President David A. Pickler is quoted saying, “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. 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.

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