Monday, March 08, 2010

ENG 102: The People Speaks, Pt. 1

This is the place for my ENG 102 students to post their responses/questions to the first half of the documentary The People Speaks

For more background on Howard Zinn check out this documentary about him and his work:

Ideas drawn from this documentary can also be used as inspiration for your research paper.

Here is the comment section for my Peace and Conflict Studies students who are also developing research projects from the Zinn book/documentary: Student examples


dustman said...

It is interesting to look back at the struggles of the labor movement,and in particular, the 1930's. I think that there is some parallels to the labor market today as there was back then. For example, unions today, as in the past, are disdained by big business because they allow workers to be represented and treated fairly, instead of bullied into complete submission. I think that like in the past, big business continues to propogate the idea that unions equate communism. They constantly try to scare the public into believing, somehow, that workers coming together to protect their rights and demanding fair treatment is somehow a "communist/socialist" plot to destroy capitalism. I mean look at the violence that the industrial system used in the 1930's, as men and women struggled to be represented in system that is inherently anti-worker. Today, as we see more and more workers become disinfranchised, as big business continues to sacrifice jobs in the name of obscene profits,as CEO's and Wall Street hucksters live in a guilded age of luxury that dwarfs the industrialist's of the 19th century, we can see that the labor movement of the 1930's was trying to stop and prevent what is happening today. What I hope to see is a re-emergence of the labor movement during these financially troubleing times. I think that looking back at the struggles of the past and what unions and labor were fighting for could be looked upon as the blueprint for workers today. But, somehow, it probably won't happen. How many people are taught about the labor movement of the 20th century?

taylor said...

At first I thought this documentary was going to be one of those that I would fall asleep in. It definetly proved me wrong, this movie was really interesting to me. When he showed those images of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and how they have changed them because the original words almost sounded like we weren't a democracy. The most intreging part for me was all the stories he had found and that he had the famous stars perform. Having the actors and singers read those made it seem like you were almost back in time when the actual people said those things or the experiences they had made. I can't wait to watch the rest!

dustman said...

the post about the labor movement of the 30's and the workers of today vs big business and wall street was my post. Carrol Adams

David Sharpe said...

Personally, I felt that this movie and book is very powerful and is something I encourage everyone to read and or see. I think the concept of exposing all the hidden history in America is very enlightening. Not only is the book great because of the controversial, eye-opening American events that are exposed, but also because of the author. The author had taught in a college for all black women and that was very intriguing to me being the time frame he taught in. The books success rate is phenomenal in that it has sold over 2 million copies since it was released in 1980. The Peoples History of the United States is a very powerful book that highlights all the harsh and heinous events in Americans life, bestowed upon them by the rough hands of the American government form the lack of freedom given to African Americans and women, to the bonus marchers marching to D.C. in order to obtain their promised money. Although the book is immaculate, the video of the excerpts being read was a breath of fresh air. I really enjoyed when John Legend sang an old slave hymn with his own modern touch. Other things that touched me were the story of “Macaroni Jack”, Fredrick Douglas speech, Malcolm Xs speech, and the little black girl who refused to sing the Star Spangle Banner because she didn’t feel the lyrics to be accurate in that she is not as “free” as the lyrics imply due to the harsh segregations of schools and parks. Overall, this is a very heart-felt book of factual history on all the shady events that occurred in American history and is something that should be enticing to everyone.

XplosionOflaver said...

Justin Dunlap
Eng 102

In response to the video “The people speaks” I am interested in doing further research into the John brown raid on Harpers Ferry. Related to this subject is either Americans or non-Americans who tried and failed to start a revolt. I also could go about people convicted of high treason. Because this is an argumentative paper I would have to narrow my search to cases with some suspicion of fowl play. It also would be interesting to note what some of these revolutionaries were fighting for. This al depends on whether or not we are limited to our country or the world. The topic would be more interesting if it involved the world because I could involve the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot.

Josiah Henry said...

The People Speaks has been quite an interesting documentary so far. Although there is some parts in which I feel it draws out to a certain degree the majority has had some well placed speeches as well as letters from historic everyday people. The whole feel of the documentary is obviously not an opinion but merely a different viewpoint in which we can see things through the eyes of the lower class. An interesting viewpoint to say the least.

Anton said...

In the Documentary film The People Speak many ideas and views were brought up. These views were not much talked about by the media, politicians or corporate giants in the same light as they were talked about by ordinary, everyday people. One of the things that immediately caught my attention was what happened to our soldiers after coming home from war. Many of them came home to find that the things which had been promised to them such as land or money, would turn out to never be theirs, or would be just another battle they would have to fight to obtain. Throughout history, this has been the case for generations of soldiers, who have been time and time again, promised things from their countries for their service, and been let down by their governments.

Hilb said...

Christopher Hilbert
Professor Benton
English 102

Response for The People Speak pt. 1

In response to the first part of the video we saw in class I would like to first say it was very informative. I am very interested in history and especially the history of the United States. In learning history over my college career I receieved a lot of information and much of it seems different from what Howard Zinn had written about in his book. The many different aspects of the people he quoted are not in everyday text and are not taught in any of the history classes that I have been involved with. It was a great eye opening experience for me to watch the first portion of the video.

brshelton said...

I suppose this is the correct location.

My thoughts on the documentary are that it serves a very useful purpose of informing a large audience, but it succumbs to the same tactics it criticizes. The use of celebrities and iconic figures to relate a message from a destitute farmer would be a bit more ingenuous if they had actually found an out of work farmer to read it.

I greatly admire the pursuit of truth attempted in the film, but it seems to me that in viewing it I am trading one form of persuasion for another.

Justin Chaney said...

Growing up in the 90’s a white male; separatism is something I knew nothing about. My childhood mind didn’t differentiate the color I was or the color he was. And when I did start to recognize such things, I didn’t naturally assume that because I was the color I was that I should be at the top of the “food chain” and that because someone else’s skin was different that they were below me. I remember learning about slavery in school, I remember learning of the civil rights movement, and of Dr. King. The thing I remember most though is thinking to myself, “Parents have brought their children up this way, to hate. And those children go on to teach their children the same ‘morals’, to hate. Strong Christian families are bringing their children up in a world where they set aside the basic beliefs of their religion.”
Hearing a piece of Walker’s Appeal read aloud brought those memories flying back. His intelligence is shocking to me, a son of a slave, and well educated, no doubt. He used his words to try and rally other blacks to be strong and to hold on because one day, it would all be over. He says that every dog has its day, and that America’s was day was coming; to wake up and change it’s ways. He shined a whole new light onto what it was actually like back then and he has made me proud to have been born in the late 80’s, never knowing slavery or the civil rights movement. I much prefer this country today, though there is still racism, I don’t walk with my head in shame as surely I would’ve back then.

Justin Chaney

Anton said...

In the Documentary film The People Speak many ideas and views were brought up. These views were not much talked about by the media, politicians or corporate giants in the same light as they were talked about by ordinary, everyday people. One of the things that immediately caught my attention was what happened to our soldiers after coming home from war. Many of them came home to find that the things which had been promised to them such as land or money, would turn out to never be theirs, or would be just another battle they would have to fight to obtain. Throughout history, this has been the case for generations of soldiers, who have been time and time again, promised things from their countries for their service, and been let down by their governments.


Michael Benton said...

Thanks Carol--recorded

Taylor--not an adequate response

Justin--you will need to approach the general theme/topic through the circumstance/history of a particular person, group, movement and/or event. It is a 6-8 paper--you need to focus to provide a coherent and complex argument.

John Cobb said...

swansong said:
The previous post about the freedoms Americans enjoy to express diverse opinions was mine.

Anonymous said...

At first, I did not know who Howard Zinn was, but now that I have watched his video “The People Speak,” I have a lot of respect for him and his points he tries to get across. His video really caught my attention because he showed us the side of America that we don’t learn about in school or from our text books. We don’t hear of these faults because the government wants the people to think America is great and the best country in the world. The way I see it is that we should be able to learn about these past political issues because that is how we learn from mistakes. I enjoyed the fact that he included problems with women's rights, the great depression, the war, the economy, racism, as well as the present issues.

Brittany Sehgal

John Cobb said...

The people I love most have drawn me into the most insidious cult perpetrated upon man. Innocent of any malice, though, they fully believe the system of belief they have given is, for me, as it is for them, the very purpose for which our lives are intended. They are right ... their gift IS the purpose of my life and theirs. The way the gift is presented, though very compelling, is not only misleading, but detrimental both to adherents and to the integrity of the institution. The gift of which I speak is mainstream christian theology.

The reason I have chosen this topic for an essay on silenced, marginalized and contested issues and people in history is that mainstream christian institutions have perpetrated all three. Furthermore, every person who has ever investigated for themselves the message mainstream christian institutions propose, had it presented or been pressured with the necessity of belief has had to reconcile the glaring inconsistencies their evangelistic efforts put forward.

The audience I address is far broader than will allow me to address the issues I will introduce in a theological manner. A greater proportion of Americans today have only passing familiarity with christian belief than in the past and many avowed believers have little acquaintance with the tenets of their church's doctrine. (Documentation from George Barna.) So I will attempt to present my points in a manner that may be understood without a Bible, theological texts or even an inclination toward belief. To a non-believer, none of these things carry any consequence anyway, so I will not rely upon them.

Michael Benton said...

Josiah--this is not an acceptable response... you need to engage the text (enter into a dialogue with it).

realwriter27 said...

After watching the some exerts from the people speak i feel compelled and somewhat obligated to research more into the history of not only America, but World history as a whole. I was most fascinated by the reinactments of the storys delivered by the Indian people who were wrenched from their home lands and the all of the information that was seemingly left out during the course of my education as a youth. Trying to imagine what life was like during the european take over of this nation yields dark images of capabilites of mankind. While I would like to believe that I could search for the truth and make an attempt to reveal it to the world similar to what Howard Zinn has attempted, I begin to realize the effort that has already been spent to conceal it. In the end, to leave the world better off than you left seems to be a very difficult task. From the anilation of the Indian people, to the Induction of free slave labor, this country was seemingly originated from the violation of human rights. While the knowledge of these past events sparks great curiosity it also reminds me to be cautious of my own actions. To know the extent of the capabilities of the people in power aka the American government is frightful. I cannot put one face behind the goverment nor can I exact what would do if placed in the same position of power, but I do wonder if our government is a true reflection of ourselves.

thaddeus pettrey said...

Mr. Benton,
The following is my original entry that I posted on my blog. I was not sure how to link it so if you want to make sure that it was turned in on time you can go to and it will be the first post you see.

Thursday, March 11, 2010
The People Speak

While watching the first half of Howard Zinn's "The People Speak," there were many topics that I found interesting and important. The topic that stood out the most was the reading about the woman factory worker who lead her fellow workers out of the factory in protest of unfair working conditions. The actions that working class people have taken throughout history to improve their working conditions and their lives is something that needs to be understood for both the struggle that they endured and also the victories that they won which have a direct influence on workers still today. This topic is important to me personally as I come from a blue collar working class family who are strong believers in the workers right to unionize. There are many striking examples of the fight that working class citizens engaged in and many of these examples end in violence and murder. An area that I would like to concentrate on would be coal miners struggles as well as other industrial workers who fought and died for the rights to better working conditions. These people can not be forgotten for they are true American heroes.