Tonight's presentation is based on a more recent book The Voices of a People’s History of the United States. It is both a dramatic and musical performances by talented actors standing on a stage and playing the parts of great Americans while reading letters, reciting diaries and speeches of everyday Americans who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history. Those Americans who worked so hard for equality and justice.
The true heroes in American history are presented in this two minute promo from The History Channel,
There has already been a preview of "The People Speak" on Bill Moyers Journal. It was amazing to see these two great Americans sit down and discuss this powerful presentation of "People Powered Politics." Looking at the Bill Moyers Journal link you can can read the transcript and view clips from "The People Speak." That page opens with a quote from "the historian of the American everyman and woman."
"They're willing to let people think about mild reforms and little changes, and incremental changes, but they don't want people to think that we could actually transform this country."
A quote about the people on top that just don't want people thinking that our nation can be transformed into a peaceful nation. That top down message that we cannot afford proper healthcare or protection for all of our citizens but we can afford military bases all over the world.
You can watch the entire Howard Zinn interview. In part one is a presentation of where Howard Zinn came from, how "he and his students at Boston University saw a more down to earth way of looking at American history and since no book could provide it Zinn decided to write one." In tonight's production, a method of reaching a larger audience "actors and musicians bring to life voices of protest from America's past. Performing words and music that have given us, as Howard Zinn says, whatever liberty or democracy we have." How going to the polls every four years is not enough and the inspiration of people of the past like Genora Dollinger. How many Americans know who Genora Dollinger was?
In part two the false media presentation of a passive citizenry is explored. Howard Zinn recalls the recent almost forgotten Sitdown Strike in Chicago and compared that to the forgotten union labor movements of the past. You have got to see Bill Moyers and Howard Zinn's brilliant segway from Sarah Palin to Susan B.Anthony via William Jennings Bryan and the fascism warning within. Howard Zinn points out the actions of Susan B.Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Vietnam antiwar movement to conclude "You must stick up for your principles even if it means breaking the law."
In part three there is the very important fact that democracy is not the three branches of government taught in our schools but the people. The power of organizing for the people as presented by Cesar Chavez, how long the people waited for populism to take hold but there were times when progress happens. Bill Moyers decided to end "with a woman who showed us the power of a single voice speaking for democracy, born into slavery, largely uneducated, she spoke out for the rights of all people who didn't have any." I don't know how any American can get through Kerry Washington's presentation of Sojourner Truth without tears of joy for the history of our real history makers.
There is so much that can be learned form Howard Zinn and so many that need to hear his words.
"If democracy were to be given any meaning, if it were to go beyond the limits of capitalism and nationalism, this would not come, if history were any guide, from the top. It would come through citizen's movements, educating, organizing, agitating, striking, boycotting, demonstrating, threatening those in power with disruption of the stability they needed."
So why not get on the phone and get some other Americans interested. According to Bill Moyers, in the twenty-nine years since A People's History Of The United States has been published only 2 million people have purchased a copy. That's nowhere near enough in a nation of this size and not all of them were purchases by Americans either.
In this A People's History Of The United States link, you can read the whole book for free.
Update: Well sort of an update."The People Speak" has already been seen here on The History Channel and is on now in West Coast time slots. You can see it here again at midnight in the east or 11 o'clock Central. Once again the History Channel link is here and here is a link for the DVD.
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