What was on ’12 Years a Slave’ director Steve McQueen’s wrist on Oscar stage?


Director Steve McQueen and actor/producer Brad Pitt accept the Best Picture award for “12 Years a Slave” onstage during the Oscars on Sunday night. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Director Steve McQueen was wearing a red wristband Sunday night when he ascended to the stage after his film, “12 Years a Slave,” won the Oscar for Best Picture. What was it?

McQueen was wearing a wristband that said  “Stand Up4Public Schools,” given to him by David A. Pickler, president of the National School Boards Association, on the Academy Awards red carpet.

What was the president of the NSBA doing at the Academy Awards and why would McQueen wear a wristband from the organization’s new public relations campaign in support of public education? The NSBA is partnering with McQueen and others to distribute edited copies of the powerful film to public high schools across the country along with the 1853 memoir of the same name from which it was adapted and a study guide for teachers.

A news release about the initiative quoted McQueen as saying:

“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.”

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · March 3