The People Speak
Historian Howard Zinn has opened the eyes of millions to the role of ordinary people in the making of our nation’s history in his 1980 book, A People’s History of the United States. His message was that history doesn’t come from great men, it comes from the bottom up and it comes from their struggle. As Naomi Klein has observed, “he told people to believe in themselves and their power to change the world,” a message especially relevant at the present moment.
This message is dramatized in the film The People Speak, which uses some of the historical letters, diaries and speeches of ordinary Americans who, through their words and actions, changed the course of our nation. Originally broadcast on the History Channel, this film was written and co-directed by Zinn shortly before his death. Its readings and music is performed by a star-studded cast from Danny Glover and Morgan Freeman to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. It brings alive popular struggles at key moments of U.S. history. This certainly isn’t the way most of us were taught history in high school.
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