Here, Matt Damon reads from a speech Howard Zinn gave in 1970 as part of a debate on civil disobedience. Matt Damon and his family were lifelong friends of the Zinns.
This performance was part of "The People Speak, Live!" show, featuring Damon, Lupe Fiasco and a cast of Chicago's finest poets, actors, activists, artists, musicians, and writers. The show took place at the Metro in Chicago, on January 31, 2012, and was produced by Voices of a People's History (peopleshistory.us) in collaboration with Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival (youngchicagoauthors.org).
Here's what Howard Zinn writes about this 1970 speech in his introduction to the full piece in his book Voices of a People's History of the United States, written with Anthony Arnove and first published in 2004 by Seven Stories Press:
"In November 1970, after my arrest along with others who had engaged in a Boston protest at an army base to block soldiers from being sent to Vietnam, I flew to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to take part in a debate with the philosopher Charles Frankel on civil disobedience. I was supposed to appear in court that day in connection with the charges resulting from the army base protest. I had a choice: show up in court and miss this opportunity to explain — and practice — my commitment to civil disobedience, or face the consequences of defying the court order by going to Baltimore. I chose to go. The next day, when I returned to Boston, I went to teach my morning class at Boston University. Two detectives were waiting outside the classroom and hauled me off to court, where I was sentenced to a few days in jail. Here is the text of my speech that night at Johns Hopkins."
Here actor Tim Robbins reads from Martin Duberman's account of what became known as the Stonewall Riots, in New York City, on June 28, 1969.
Tim Robbins is introduced by Howard Zinn at the 92nd Street Y celebration of Young People's History on May 13, 2009. Produced by Voices of a People's History (peopleshistory.us) in collaboration with Seven Stories Press. (youngchicagoauthors.org).
//One of the most important moments of resistance from the 1960s was the Stonewall Rebellion. On the night of June 27–28, 1969, a multiracial group of gays who had gathered at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village resisted when police sought to shut down the bar (allegedly for serving alcohol without a license) and to arrest patrons. They fought back, as the historian Martin Duberman recounts here, and, in doing so, helped spur a new, more militant phase of the struggle for gay liberation.//
Alana Arenas, a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble, reads from Sylvia Woods' recollection of her childhood in Louisiana at the start of the twentieth century. This performance was part of "The People Speak, Live!" at the Metro in Chicago, on January 31, 2012, produced by Voices of a People's History (peopleshistory.us) in collaboration with Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival.
Sylvia Woods was a pioneer in the struggle of African-American and women trade unionists, although her story is not told in most school textbooks. Here, she relates how she first started speaking out against racism—as a 10-year-old girl in grade school in Louisiana during the early 1900s. She told her story to Alice and Staughton Lynd, the labor historians and activists, in the 1970s.
Malcolm London, a teaching artist at Young Chicago Authors and a Louder Than a Bomb All Star, reads from Fred Hampton's 1969 speech at Olivet Presbyterian Church in Chicago, in February 1969.
This performance was part of "The People Speak, Live!" at the Metro in Chicago, on January 31, 2012, produced by Voices of a People's History (peopleshistory.us) in collaboration with Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival.
As deputy chair of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton set up the Black Panther’s free breakfast program and coined the phrase "Rainbow Coalition" after forging a multi-racial alliance between Chicago's gangs, eventually joined by groups including the Young Lords and Young Patriots. On December 4, 1969 a tactical unit of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office, supported by the FBI and Chicago Police Department, murdered the twenty-one-year-old Fred Hampton in his bed at 2337 West Monroe Street.
Q'Orianka Kilcher reads from Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's book Voices of a People's History of the United States, February 1, 2007, at All Saints Church, Pasadena, CA. For more information, visit: peopleshistory.us.