Friday, January 27, 2012

A People's Readalong

As you go out in the world, try to keep your eye on the human bottom line. I also hope you will understand & be tough about what is needed to solve problems, change attitudes, and bring about needed changes in our society.  Democracy is not a spectator sport.
~Marian Wright Edelman, in a 1983 commencement address at Milton Academy

Howard Zinn's massive A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present has been malingering on my bookshelf for a decade.  I don't think (though it's been a long time since I last looked at it) that I have ever read beyond Chapter 1: "Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress" .  But 2012 is the year that I plan to finish it, with the help of A People's Readalong.

A People's Readalong is a genius idea (in my humble opinion) by two bloggers to read a chapter of this 729 page book a week until it's finished-sometime in July.  So far, I've read Chapter 1 (again), & hope to soon start Chapter 2: Drawing the Color Line.  It's nice, because you can write about it on your blog (if you have one) or just check in on the two bloggers' sites & leave your comments on their posts.  There are several other people doing the readalong & commenting, so it's like an online discussion group.

The readalong bloggers recommended watching The People Speak, a documentary originally broadcast on the History Channel.  "Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, the documentary feature film The People Speak gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with their insistence on equality and justice," is how Howard Zinn's website describes the film. Readers include Don Cheadle, Viggo Mortensen, Matt Damon, Marisa Tomei & Sandra Oh.  I watched it yesterday & found it deeply moving, not to mention eye-opening. 

ABC Libraries has the book (& audiobook version) of readings from the movie, The People Speak: American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known: Dramatic Readings Celebrating the Enduring Spirit of Dissent, as well as the book on which it was based, Voices of a People's History of the United States.  The library catalog also features many other Zinn titles. Zinn, who died in 2010, was an American historian, academic, author, playwright, and social activist. According to Wikipedia, he received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, the Thomas Merton Award (given annually to "national and international individuals struggling for justice') and, in 1998, the Eugene V. Debs Award ("honoring a person whose work has been in the spirit of Debs and who has contributed to the advancement of the causes of industrial unionism, social justice, or world peace").

I'm excited to continue reading my weekly chapter!  Wish me luck!


A People's Readalong-Join us why don't you?

A People's Readalong (Fizzy Thoughts)

The People Speak website

Howard Zinn's website

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