“12 Years a Slave” To Become Part of High School Curriculum

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12 Years a Slave will become a part of the curriculum in American public high schools after it is distributed in September, the National School Boards Association has announced.

Television personality Montel Williams coordinated this initiative, saying in a press conference statement, “When Hollywood is at its best, the power of the movies can be harnessed into a powerful educational tool.”

Through a partnership with New Regency, Penguin Books and the filmakers, the Oscar-nominated movie will be distributed to public high schools by the National School Boards Association along with the book and a study guide.

Individual school districts will decide whether or not to incorporate it in their curricula.

“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,” Tom Gentzel, executive director of the NSBA, told TIME. He added that individual school districts will decide whether to teach the film once they have it. “[Slavery] is an important topic, and it’s an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

The film’s director, Steve McQueen, has spoken about his desire to have the film and its source material be part of education for young students around the world.

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

Watch Steve McQueen discuss education and his vision for the film below.