"The People Speak, Englewood,"
an Evening of Dramatic Readings and Songs, May 31st
Hosted by Kevin Coval, featuring Ameena Matthews of The Interrupters; Louder Than a Bomb All-Star Malcolm London; TEAM Englewood's student poets, musicians, and artists; DJ Itch 13; and special guests to be announced
May 31st, 6:00 pm, at TEAM Englewood High School, Auditorium
6201 S Stewart Ave, Chicago, IL 60621
Free and open to the public | Free lot parking | CTA: 63rd red line, Halsted green line, #63 bus
Chicago, IL—Closing out the first year of the "Chicago Voices of a People's History" arts and education initiative, a live performance of "The People Speak" will take place at TEAM Englewood High School May 31. Bringing to life the extraordinary history of ordinary people who made the United States what it is today, the evening will feature students engaged in "people's history" curriculum alongside noted Chicago poets and activists, for dramatic readings and musical performances of the words and songs of rebels from America’s past.
"The People Speak, Englewood" is based on the award-winning documentary feature The People Speak which had its broadcast premiere on HISTORY™ in 2009. Seen by more than eight million people, The People Speak features Matt Damon reading John Steinbeck; Bob Dylan performing Woody Guthrie; Marisa Tomei describing the 1937 Flint sit-down strike; Morgan Freeman and Don Cheadle performing the words of Frederick Douglass; John Legend reading Muhammad Ali; and many others performing the work of both the acclaimed and anonymous in U.S. history.
Earlier this year, Damon, along with hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco headlined a benefit Chicago performance of "The People Speak, Live!," carving out time in the day to meet with TEAM Englewood students in the process of planning the May 31st performance. As student Jerome Wade said of the visit, "This project is really important to me because of my community. I mostly try to better my community with my poetry and music. To see people come here and make a big deal of it, motivates me to keep doing it.”
An executive producer of The People Speak film, Damon talked about the project's educational character with WBEZ, saying "At [my] age now, I can read Frederick Douglass and be really excited about it," he said "But to have Morgan Freeman reading a great Frederick Douglass speech, it's a way for kids to connect more viscerally to American history."
"The People Speak, Englewood" will feature the words of abolitionist Sojourner Truth and Chicago Black Panther Party Captain Fred Hampton; songs by Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye; original writing from TEAM Englewood poets including the poem "Stuff Black Kids Say to Racists," and a speech from the late historian Howard Zinn, author of the bestselling A People’s History of the United States, whose work forms the basis of the entire project.
The May 31st performance is produced by the national non-profit Voices of a People’s History, in conjunction with TEAM Englewood High School and Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival. Since 2003, Voices of a People's History has produced more than 100 performances across the country with casts that have included local students, parents, civic leaders, and actors alongside celebrated artists such as Black Thought of The Roots, Josh Brolin, Diane Lane, Danny Glover, Sandra Oh, Steve Earle, Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, Patti Smith, Kerry Washington, and Alfre Woodard—on stages ranging from small classrooms to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Sundance Film Festival.
Alongside Louder Than a Bomb, Voices of a People's History initiated the yearlong Chicago Voices pilot project in September 2011, bringing free educational material, teacher workshops, and public arts programming to classrooms and communities across the city. Since the Chicago Voices pilot project launched, 1,000 Chicago educators have received the free Chicago Voices Educators Toolkit, suitable for middle and high school and introductory college classes. The toolkit includes The People Speak DVD, a preloaded USB flash drive with standards-aligned lesson plans, teaching guides, primary source material featuring Chicago history, as well as several books by Howard Zinn.
Louder Than a Bomb Artistic Director Kevin Coval and Chicago Voices Co-Director Mariah Neuroth are available for live interviews. Anthony Arnove, producer of The People Speak can be available by phone, along with Voices National Executive Director Brenda Coughlin. Select performance participants can also be available for select interviews. Please direct all queries to Sarah Macaraeg at 312-315-8476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Cast photos are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/voicesofapeopleshistory. Press kit available upon request.
Selected praise for the Award-winning documentary The People Speak
“Striking, exhilarating...the performances are thrilling.” --Los Angeles Times
“A celebration in spoken word and song of those who made history from the bottom up.” --Scripps News/McClatchey Tribune
“A terrifically educational and entertaining film for all ages.” --Pittsburgh Tribune Review
“The bottom line: An excellent family choice to watch with your teenagers, The People Speak crosscuts the live readings with historical footage and is more engaging than your average American history lesson.” --News & Observer
Selected quotes from The People Speak
“Democracy does not come from the top. It comes from the bottom.” --Howard Zinn in The People Speak
“Then that man in back there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman. Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from!? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with Him.”
--Kerry Washington in The People Speak as Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I A Woman?” (1851)
“So, I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where--wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ -- I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build why, I’ll be there.” --Matt Damon in The People Speak as Tom Joad from John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939)