David Pickler Helps Put ’12 Years A Slave’ In High Schools

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(WREG-TV) Best Picture nominee 12 Years A Slave could soon be seen in classrooms across the country, partly due to the efforts of one Memphian.

National School Boards Association President David Pickler is working with Penguin Books, New Regency, and director Steve McQueen, as well as Montel Williams.

The movie is very graphic in its depiction of slavery in the south.

Pickler, who is also on the Shelby County School Board, said the movie will be edited to remove content which earned it an 'R' rating from the Motion Picture Association.

"The movie would have to be edited to make sure the content is appropriate for high school students," he said.

The movie is an adaptation of the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, who was born free then kidnapped and sold into slavery for twelve years.

Some people have said the film will do for slavery what Schindler's List did for the Holocaust by allowing audiences to make an emotional connection to those affected.

Pickler said, "There's an old theory that those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. That's why we felt this was an important subject matter, an important topic and an important film."

The decision on whether or not to use it is up to each individual school district.

"We believe very strongly that every high school student should be able to stare the stark realities of the evils of slavery in the eye," Pickler said.

Pickler said he knows it will be a tough decision for school boards to make.

In Shelby County, the board has not even talked about it yet.

"It's very important that these students be given the opportunity to study this history to ensure that, not only is this never forgotten, but also that this history is never repeated," Pickler said.

Each district would get the movie, book and teaching materials for free. They can start showing up in classrooms as early as this fall.