The People Speak: Howard Zinn

Posted on February 4, 2010
Filed Under Books, Culture, Films, Main, People, Politics | Leave a Comment

With the death on January 27 of historian Howard Zinn (author of “A People’s History of the United States,” the first book to present American history through the eyes of working people rather than political and economic elites), we wanted to call to your attention the release of Zinn’s DVD “The People Speak” on February 23. Here’s the complete press release:


NOTE: As one of the last projects on which he worked before his passing at 87, acclaimed Historian Howard Zinn couldn’t have been more proud.  A long-time labor of love for the best-selling author of “A People’s History of the United States” (among many other books) and professor emeritus at Boston University, THE PEOPLE SPEAK is a legacy of powerful and poignant ideas that shall live on forever.  And, given the country’s current ideological situation, it’s a significant program which should be shared by all. Said executive producer Matt Damon, “The message that is so critical to disseminate is that change doesn’t come from the top, but rather from the bottom, and that without everyday citizens pushing to make a difference, there would be no America.”

“Text all your friends not to miss ‘The People Speak’” –  The New York Daily News


Based on Historian Howard Zinn’s Best-Selling Books, This Exclusive Extended Broadcast Version Also Features Bonus Programming Including Additional Interviews and a Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

NEW YORK, NY – Presenting 500 years of history through speeches, letters and music performed by today’s most talented voices, THE PEOPLE SPEAK is a stirring HISTORY  special paying homage to ordinary citizens whose words and actions commanded extraordinary change in America.  Based on historian Howard Zinn’s seminal books “The People’s History of the United States” (first published in 1980 with over 2 million copies in print) and “Voices of a People’s History of the United States” (the primary-source companion to “A People’s History”, edited with Anthony Arnove, who also helped found, with Zinn, the nonprofit Voices of a People’s History of the United States at, this documentary gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with an insistence on equality and justice.  From executive producers Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Chris Moore and Anthony Arnove, this DVD presentation features over 20 minutes of never-before-aired footage as well as two exclusive bonus features for $19.95 from A&E Home Entertainment due February 23.

Narrated by Zinn himself, this groundbreaking doc – which ultimately recounts the rich and vibrant story of social change in America – illustrates the relevance of passionate historical moments to our society today, and reminds us that democracy is not a spectator sport.  Journeying from the founding of our country to the civil rights movement and beyond, THE PEOPLE SPEAK harnesses the dramatic and musical talents of an all-star cast of international celebrities and activists to celebrate democracy, echoing the actual words (in letters, songs, poems, speeches, and manifestos) of rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from America’s past and present including Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Langston Hughes, Chief Joseph, Muhammad Ali, and unknown veterans, union workers, abolitionists, and many others never highlighted in high school textbooks.

In a labor of love, these dramatic moments from our history have been immortalized by accomplished performers and artists who “bring a full sense of drama and import to the voices of our democracy without turning the production into a pile-on celebrity vehicle.” There’s Matt Damon reading from The Declaration of Independence, Morgan Freeman reciting Frederick Douglass’ chilling speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July and Rosario Dawson as feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  There’s hip-hop legend DMC reciting David Walker’s appeal to the slaves to revolt, while, as Cesar Chavez, poet Martin Espada makes an appeal to farmworkers and David Strathairn powerfully steps into the words of World War II hero Admiral Gene LaRocque.  Music legends Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen perform the songs of folk icon Woody Guthrie, while THE PEOPLE SPEAK also features additional dramatic and musical performances by: Allison Moorer, Benjamin Bratt, Chris Robinson, Christina Kirk, Danny Glover, Don Cheadle, Eddie Vedder, Harris Yulin, Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Josh Brolin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Lupe Fiasco, Marisa Tomei, Matt Damon, Michael Ealy, Mike O’Malley, Pink, Q’orianka Kilcher, Reg E. Cathey, Rich Robinson, Sean Penn, Staceyann Chin, and Viggo Mortensen.

Like Zinn’s work as a whole, THE PEOPLE SPEAK on DVD celebrates the extraordinary possibilities for creating social change that ordinary people have realized throughout the course of our nation’s rich but often ignored history of dissent and protest.

More information on Zinn and his work can be found at


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