*Author Solomon Northup’s harrowing book “12 Years A Slave,” and the Oscar-nominated film it inspired, will be added to the high school curriculum later this year, thanks in part to a campaign spearheaded by Montel Williams, reports the New York Times.
The National School Boards Association announced that the work will be sent to public high schools across the United States through a partnership between the federation of schools boards, New Regency, Penguin Books, and the film’s producers. The film will be accompanied in classrooms by the original 1853 memoir that inspired the movie and a study guide.
Individual school districts will decide whether or not to incorporate it in their curricula.
TV veteran Williams is funding the distribution of the film.
“When Hollywood is at its best, the power of the movies can be harnessed into a powerful educational tool,” read a statement from Williams. “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.”
Director Steve McQueen adds, “Since first reading ‘12 Years a Slave,’ it has been my dream that this book be taught in schools.”
The news comes just two days after the film triumphed at the NAACP Image Awards and a day after it picked up the Best Motion Picture prize at the annual Satellite Awards, where McQueen was named Best Director.
“12 Years a Slave” is also nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars on Sunday. The story follows Northup, a free black man living in upstate New York as he is abducted and sold into slavery.