The People Speak – Extended Edition – DVD

Film. Directed by Howard Zinn, Chris Moore, and Anthony Arnove. 2009. 110 minutes.
Dramatic readings and performances based on Voices of a People’s History and A People’s History of the United States.

Time Periods: All US History
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Labor, Organizing, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, Women's History

"The People Speak" film is a wonderful classroom companion. Directed by Howard Zinn, it offers dramatic readings and performances based on "Voices of a People’s History" and "A People’s History of the United States."The People Speak, the feature documentary inspired by A People’s History of the United States and based on live readings of Voices of a People’s History of the United States, offers readings and performances of letters, diary entries, speeches, and songs from throughout U.S. history.

Narrated by Howard Zinn, this DVD is an extended version of the film that aired on the History Channel in December 2009.  

The extended edition of the film features dramatic readings by: Matt Damon, Danny Glover, Kerry Washington, Viggo Mortensen, Sandra Oh, Sean Penn, Lupe Fiasco, Rosario Dawson, Don Cheadle, Michael Ealy, and Staceyann Chin, and musical performances by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, and many other noted artists.

View the full list of chapters, performers, readings, and songs.

ISBN: 9781422974599 | Directed by Chris Moore, Howard Zinn, and Anthony Arnove.



Selected individual performances (including some from the film and others) that can be used in the classroom are online at Voices of a People’s History.

Using the Film in the Classroom

Send us stories to share about how you have used The People Speak with students. 

I showed some video clips of Howard Zinn speaking and some excerpts his documentary The People Speak to root students in the ideas of dissent, patriotism, and disrupting the master narrative of history.

—Zach Serrano
Middle Language Arts/English Teacher, Denver, Colorado

3 comments on “The People Speak – Extended Edition – DVD

  1. Cameron May on

    I most often use the excerpts surrounding slavery and civil rights (Sojourner Truth, Fredrick Douglass, John Brown). We discuss these people in class and read primary sources from history, so giving the students a visual/audible experience to tie into the work they do in class really helps with their comprehension of the material. And sometimes they really just love seeing their favorite actors reading the same thing they are. Most commonly, I get all the girls in my class listening more intently as well as cheering while Kerry Washington reads “Ain’t I a Woman?” They feel a connection to people who look like them reading the same words they are reading. —Cameron May, high school social studies teacher, Kansas City, MO

  2. Kipp Dawson on

    Showed much of “The People Speak” to my 8th-graders as part of a unit they are doing on Oratory. After they got over their usual silliness laughing at the things middle-schoolers find to laugh at, they got quite into the presentations. They struggle with the concept of enriching vocabulary (with a “why bother” kind of attitude) but this film helped break that down some for them. They especially enjoyed the Sojourner Truth portrayal, which opened the door to some good discussions. What a great service; thank you!

  3. Deb Springhorn on

    I have organized my interdisciplinary two credit American Studies course around the theme of American identity; for the midterm student must write an essay showing the evolution of our identity, using specific history and literature examples which they explain and analyze from 3 of our 5 units. Throughout the course, they read A Peoples’ History of the United States as a companion to their textbook. I use The People Speak as a transition from the first part of the course which goes from the Puritans to 1900 and the second semester which goes from the turn of the century to the present. —Deb Springhorn, Lebanon High School, Lebanon, NH

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