Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Television Event That May Remind People of Their Power

Every once in a while something truly special airs on television. When "The People Speak" airs on The History Channel this upcoming Sunday it will be one of those moments.

Inspired by the books of Howard Zinn, ("A People's History of the United States") and Anthony Arnove, ("Voices of a People's History"), The People Speak is a documentary which tells the story of American democracy through the words of the ordinary, yet powerful, people who have shaped it.

With a cast that includes: Benjamin Bratt, Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Rosario Dawson, Danny Glover, Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Viggo Mortensen and Sandra Oh, this film shares the voices of the dissenters, the protesters, "the resistance in U.S. history " who have helped shaped this nation's history but are seldom mentioned in history texts. The result is a documentary which reminds us that democracies are built from the bottom up, not from the top down.

In the following video clip Howard Zinn and co-exec-producer Chris Moore discuss their film on the Today show:

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Reporting for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Katie Leslie interviewed actress Jasmine Guy who shared her experience in making this documentary:

" 'The live experience, the filming process, was really incredible,' Guy said, explaining that actors and musicians practiced their lines backstage in character. 'We had Frederick Douglass in one corner and Martin Luther King in another and Abraham Lincoln... it was deep.'

Guy said she was most touched by the work of Abbey Lincoln, whom she knew as an actress and singer, but not as an activist. Guy depicted Lincoln, Alice Walker, Sylvia Woods and others in the film.

'In reading it, it was so raw and it kind of touched a nerve with me because it was talking about the acceptance of our own beauty as black women and how we can’t ever seem to get it right,' Guy said of Lincoln's work. 'And I think those people you don’t expect to come out with these profound powerful moving words really moved me the most because they did come from everyday people.' "

As Bill Moyers reminded us during his address at the NYU Kimmel Center on December 12, 2006, "democracy works when people claim it as their own" and "the next chapter is ours to tell." "The People Speak", reminds us of this important message once again.

Hopefully, enough of us are listening.

Related Posts:

A Challenge for Every American Citizen, 9/07


  1. I plan to watch this program. It sounds like it is going to be pretty interesting and good viewing for a cold midwestern evening.

  2. I plan to watch this also. It is good and perhaps necessary to show "We The People" just how productive and powerful we can be if we are united. What is missing in our times is that powerful voice of dissent and and conscience. The easiest way to lose your rights is not excercise them


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