James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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The best Matt Damon/Morgan Freeman movie ever

Posted by James McPherson on December 14, 2009

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” is the theme of “The People Speak,” a film based on Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Matt Damon was one of the film’s producers, and in the film Morgan Freeman read an 1852 Frederick Douglass speech, “”The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” Damon also reads from the Declaration of Independence.

Oh, you thought the headline referred to that other film out now? I hear it’s not bad, either, though I haven’t seen it yet. But I did watched the “The People Speak” on the History Channel last night. I was especially moved by Kerry Washington’s reading of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman,” Marisa Tomei’s reading of the memories of a factory striker, and David Strathairn’s words from an admiral about “good war.”

Less impressed, of course, are folks like David Horowitz and Michelle Malkin. For most folks, I suspect, the disapproval of those two immediately makes the film more credible, though I wonder if “Dirty Harry” Clint Eastwood knows he’s been hanging out with Communists.

Below is a video of a different, slightly longer Washington reading of  “Ain’t I a Woman?” from one of the traveling college readings. Zinn can also be seen in the video, along with some other people you may recognize.

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2 Responses to “The best Matt Damon/Morgan Freeman movie ever”

  1. Greetings and many thanks for a enlightening posting. I appreciate what you wrote.

  2. […] McPherson on February 1, 2010 A late mention, as I’ve been away: noted historian Howard Zinn died last […]

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