Northwest Middle School History Students Respond to Documentary Film, 13thHistory Students Respond to Documentary, 13th

History teachers Lois Harris and Nathan Tanner along with some of their students recently viewed the documentary film, 13th, by director Ava DuVernay. This 2016 documentary explores the "intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States." 


The film argues that the injustices present today in society and in our criminal justice system are rooted in the language of one clause found in the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment freed the slaves and prohibited slavery; however, it includes the clause “unless as punishment for a crime.” The documentary shows how communities of color are heavily impacted by mass incarceration in the United States. The film, winner of Best Documentary at the Emmys, traces 150 years of racism, incarceration, and disempowerment of minority communities in America at the hands of state and federal government.


Students developed a deeper understanding of the prison industrial system, Civil Rights, and lobbying groups.The students participated in Socratic Seminars and created posters as part of their response to the film. Mr. Tanner posted a collage of those posters on Twitter and received a response from the filmmaker. Students were excited to see DuVernay’s “fist bump” of support at the bottom of the tweet!


To view the entire gallery, click here.

*Students who participated brought signed parent/guardian permission forms.


History Students Respond to Documentary Film, 13th

© Northwest Middle School | Salt Lake City School District