Voices of a People's History of the United States in the 21st Century

Documents of Hope and Resistance

Twenty-first century social movements come to life through speeches, essays, and other documents of activism, protest, and social change.

Gathering more than 100 texts from social movements that have shaped the 21st century, this powerful book includes contributions from Angela Y. Davis, Nick Estes, Colin Kaepernick, Rebecca Solnit, Christian Smalls, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Howard Zinn, Rev. William Barber, Bree Newsome, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Tarana J. Burke, Dream Defenders, Sins Invalid, Mariame Kaba, Naomi Klein, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Linda Sarsour, Chelsea E. Manning, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, Julian Brave NoiseCat, H. Melt, and others.
 
Inspired by the original Voices of a People’s History of the United States, the book features speeches, essays, poems, and calls to action from Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Indigenous struggles, immigrant rights activists, the environmental movement, disability justice organizers, and frontline workers during the global pandemic who spoke out against the life-threatening conditions of their labor. Together, their words remind us that history is made not only by the rich and powerful, but by ordinary people taking collective action.

Contents
Introduction
Acknowledgments
 
Prologue: Howard Zinn, “Against Discouragement” (May 15, 2005)
 
 
CHAPTER 1: FIGHTING WAR AND INJUSTICE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
 
Anita Cameron, “And the Steps Came Tumbling Down—ADAPT’s Battle with the HBA” (2000)
 
Manning Marable, “Race, Class, and Globalization: The Global Struggle for Democracy” (April 13, 2001)
 
Kenny Riley, “We Won’t Rest Until They’re Vindicated” (July 4, 2001)
 
Orlando Rodriguez and Phyllis Rodriguez, “Not in Our Son’s Name” (September 15, 2001)
 
Monami Maulik, “Organizing in Our Communities Post–September 11th” (2001)
Boots Riley, “Heven Tonite” (November 6, 2001)
 
Rita Lasar, “To Avoid Another September 11, United States Must Join the World” (September 5, 2002)
 
Rachel Corrie, Letter from Palestine (February 7, 2003)
 
Danny Glover, Speech During the World Day of Protest Against the War (February 15, 2003)

Amy Goodman, “Independent Media in a Time of War” (April 21, 2003)
 
Arundhati Roy, “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)” (May 13, 2003)
 
Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams (June 15, 2003)
 
Toni Smith-Thompson, “If They Don’t Want Politics in Sports Then They Need to Take the National Anthem Out” (March 12, 2004)
 
Camilo Mejía, “I Pledge My Allegiance to the Poor and Oppressed” (July 3, 2005)
 
Cindy Sheehan, “It’s Time the Antiwar Choir Started Singing” (August 5, 2005)
 
 
CHAPTER 2: THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE KATRINA
 
Patricia Thompson, Kalamu Ya Salaam, and Father Jerome Ledoux, Voices from the Storm (Fall 2005)
 
Howard Zinn, “Don’t Despair about the Supreme Court” (October 21, 2005)
 
Elvira Arellano, Statement of Elvira Arellano in Sanctuary (August 15, 2006).
 
Evann Orleck-Jetter, Statement on Marriage Equality (March 18, 2009)
 
Moustafa Bayoumi, “My Arab Problem” (October 24, 2010)
 
Gustavo Madrigal-Piña, “Undocumented and Unafraid” (August 22, 2011)
 
Troy Davis, Letter Given to His Lawyers Before His Execution (September 21, 2011)
 

CHAPTER 3: OCCUPY OPENS A NEW ERA
 
Occupy NYC General Assembly, Declaration of the Occupation of New York City (September 29, 2011)
 
Manissa Maharawal, “So Real it Hurts—Notes on Occupy Wall Street” (October 4, 2011)
 
Naomi Klein, “Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now” (October 6, 2011)
 
Kirstin Roberts, “We Stood Up to the Bullies” (October 6, 2012)
 
Farea Al-Muslimi, “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing” (April 23, 2013)
 
Roberto Meneses Marquez, “A Day Laborer” (April 30, 2013)
 
Amber Kudla, “518-455-4767” (June 23, 2013)
 
Chelsea E. Manning, “Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society” (August 21, 2013)
 
 
CHAPTER 4: STANDING UP FOR EACH OTHER
 
Phillip Agnew, “#OurMarch” (August 28, 2013)
 
Airickca Gordon-Taylor, “No Justice, No Peace: Families of Police Brutality Victims Speak Out” (June 28, 2014)
 
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, “Standing Up for Each Other” (March 10, 2014)
 
Michelle Farber, “We All Have to Be Brave” (May 14, 2014)
 
Michelle Alexander, “How to Dismantle the ‘New Jim Crow’” (July 2014)
 
Ursula K. Le Guin, Speech in Acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (November 19, 2014)
 
 
CHAPTER 5: THE FERGUSON UPRISING, BARACK OBAMA, AND THE LIMITS OF “EQUALITY”
 
Tef Poe, “Dear Mr. President” (December 1, 2014)
 
Ferguson Action, “About This Movement” (December 15, 2014)
 
Amanda Blackhorse, “This Is What Dehumanization Looks Like” (March 21, 2015)
 
Ross Gay, “A Small Needful Fact” (April 30, 2015)
 
Bree Newsome, “Now Is the Time for True Courage” (June 30, 2015)
 
Sins Invalid, “10 Principles of Disability Justice” (September 17, 2015)
 
Dream Defenders, “Social Media Blackout” (September 21, 2015)
 
Lindy West, “I Set Up #ShoutYourAbortion Because I Am Not Sorry, and I Will Not Whisper” (September 22, 2015)
 
Samaria Rice, “Why I Have Not Endorsed Any Candidate: Reflections from a Mom of the Movement” (March 15, 2016)
 
Alicia Garza, “Why Black Lives Matter” (March 18, 2016)
 
Chanel Miller, “Impact Statement” (June 3, 2016)
 
Nick Estes, “Native Liberation: The Way Forward” (August 13, 2016)
 
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, “The Urgency of Intersectionality” (October 27, 2016)
 
Leonard Peltier, “Our Day of Mourning” (November 30, 2016)
 
 
CHAPTER 6: “1,459 DAYS OF RESISTANCE”: RESISTING TRUMPISM AND THE FAR RIGHT
 
Angela Y. Davis, Speech to the Women’s March on Washington (January 21, 2017)
 
Addie Bean, “Dear Donald Trump” (January 21, 2017)
 
Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions (2017)
 
Bhairavi Desai, “A Moment of Urgency” (February 16, 2017)

Julian Brave NoiseCat, “Standing Rock Is Burning But Our Resistance Isn’t Over” (February 23, 2017)
 
Luticha Doucette, “If You’re in a Wheelchair, Segregation Lives” (May 17, 2017)
 
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Keynote at Hampshire College’s 2017 Commencement Ceremony (May 20, 2017)
 
Linda Sarsour, “Islamophobes Are Attacking Me Because I’m Their Worst Nightmare” (July 9, 2017)
 
Steven Salaita, “Don’t Let Fear Be the Lesson” (July 25, 2017)
 
Victoria-Lola M. Leon Guerrero, “An Open Letter from Guam to America” (August 10, 2017)
 
Jack Christian and Warren Christian, “The Monuments Must Go” (August 16, 2017)
 
Susan Bro, “They Tried to Kill My Child to Shut Her Up” (August 16, 2017)
 
Khury Petersen-Smith, Speech at the Fight Supremacy! Boston Counter-Protest and Resistance Rally (August 19, 2017)
 
 
CHAPTER 7: “WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED”: #METOO AND THE ONGOING RESISTANCE TO TRUMP
 
V, “Even with a Misogynist Predator-in-Chief, We Will Not Be Silenced” (August 23, 2017)
 
Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, “How We Can Organize the South to Save the Country” (September 1, 2017)
 
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, “700,000 Female Farmworkers Say They Stand with Hollywood Actors Against Sexual Assault” (November 10, 2017)
 
Naseem Johnson Byah, “I Need My Mom, My Family, and My Home” (December 14, 2017)
 
X González, “We Call BS” (February 17, 2018)
 
Katie Endicott, “How the Spark Became a Flame in West Virginia” (March 12, 2018)
 

Naomi Wadler, “I Speak for Black Girls Victimized by Guns Whose Stories Don’t Make the Front Page” (March 24, 2018)
 
Colin Kaepernick, Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award Speech (April 21, 2018)
 
Malinda Limberhand, “A Mother’s Walk for Justice” (May 5, 2018)
 
Carol Anderson, “Voting While Black” (June 7, 2018)
 
Mercedes Martínez, “Hurricane Maria Just Uncovered What’s Been Happening in Puerto Rico for Decades” (June 12, 2018)
 
Victor Ricardo Plua, “Don’t Put Children in Cages! Reunite Families Now!” (June 28, 2018)
 
Winona LaDuke, “Militarizing Minnesota over Line 3” (October 3, 2018)
 
 
CHAPTER 8: “OUR RESISTANCE MUST BE INTERSECTIONAL”
 
African American Policy Forum, “Our Fights Are Connected; Our Resistance Must Be Intersectional” (November 2, 2018)
 
Marc Lamont Hill, “Our Solidarity Must Be a Verb” (November 28, 2018)
 
aja monet, Smoke Signals Studio Artists Manifesto (February 1, 2019)
 
Microsoft Workers 4 Good, “We Did Not Sign Up to Develop Weapons” (February 22, 2019)
 
Isra Hirsi, Haven Coleman, and Alexandria Villaseñor, “Adults Won’t Take Climate Change Seriously. So We, the Youth, Are Forced to Strike” (March 7, 2019)
 
Lenny Sanchez, “Why I’m Striking Against Uber” (May 8, 2019)
 
Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Testimony to the House on Reparations” (June 19, 2019)
 
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, et al., “Pastoral Letter on the El Paso Shootings” (August 8, 2019)
 
Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez, “To Fight for a Just Climate Is to Fight for Everything That We Love” (September 9, 2019)
 
Stacey Park Milbern, “We Need Power to Live” (October 10, 2019)
 
Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, “For All the Aunties, but Especially for Mary Maxine Lani Kahaulelio” (October 28, 2019).
 
Tarana J. Burke, “The #MeToo Movement’s Success Took a Decade of Work, Not Just a Hashtag. And There’s More to Do” (December 31, 2019)
 
Antonia Crane, “Dispatch from the California Stripper Strike” (February 8, 2021)
 
Maggie Trinkle, “I (Don’t) Want a Wife” (April 16, 2020)
 
 
CHAPTER 9: “THE REAL PANDEMIC HERE IS CAPITALISM”
 
Astra Taylor, “The Real Pandemic Here Is Capitalism” (March 26, 2020)
 
Christian Smalls, “Dear Jeff Bezos, Instead of Firing Me, Protect Your Workers from Coronavirus” (April 2, 2020)
 
Adam Kaszynski, “You Could Start Making Parts for Ventilators within Twenty-four Hours” (April 9, 2020)
 
Emily Pierskalla, “I Want My Death to Make You Angry” (April 13, 2020)
 
Stacy Davis Gates, “They’re Not Going to Save Us. We Are Going to Save Us” (May 1, 2020)
 
Sujatha Gidla, “‘We Are Not Essential. We Are Sacrificial’” (May 5, 2020)
 
Lateef McLeod, “Disability Justice and COVID-19” (May 8, 2020)
 
Jill Nelson, “Trump = Plague” (May 11, 2020)
 
 
CHAPTER 10: ABOLITION AND THE UPRISING FOR BLACK LIVES
 
Natasha Cloud, “Your Silence Is a Knee on My Neck” (May 30, 2020)
 
Olivia Olson, “This Is What’s Really Happening in Minneapolis” (June 3, 2020)
 

8toAbolition, “#8toAbolition: Abolition Can’t Wait” (June 7, 2020)
 
Mariame Kaba, “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police: Because Reform Won’t Happen” (June 12, 2020)
 
Ianne Fields Stewart, “Today Is the Last Day of Trans Oppression” (June 14, 2020)
 
Imani Perry, “Racism Is Terrible. Blackness Is Not.” (June 15, 2020)
 
 
CHAPTER 11: “TRUMPISM CAN’T BE VOTED AWAY”

Viet Thanh Nguyen, “Asian Americans Are Still Caught in the Trap of the ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype. And It Creates Inequality for All” (June 25, 2020)
 
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “I Could Not Allow That to Stand” (July 23, 2020)
 
Melania Brown, “My Sister Layleen Polanco Died Alone in Rikers. Solitary Confinement Is Torture” (July 23, 2020)
 
Barbara Smith, “How to Dismantle White Supremacy” (August 21, 2020)
 
Anna Kuperman, “The Emperor Has No Clothes” (September 8, 2020)
 
Mumia Abu-Jamal, “Inside the Inside of Lockdown America” (September 14, 2020)
 
Barbara Ransby, “Trumpism Can’t Be Voted Away. We Need Radical Social Transformation.” (November 18, 2020)
 
Hakeem Jefferson, “Storming the US Capitol Was about Maintaining White Power in America” (January 8, 2021)
 
 
CHAPTER 12: THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

Jesse Hagopian, “I’m Not Alone in Pledging to #TeachTruth” (June 12, 2021)
 
Cheri Renfro, “Dear Frito-Lay” (July 2, 2021)

Red Canary Song, “Radical Healing from State and Community Violence: Mourning with Asian Massage Workers in the Americas” (August 17, 2021)
 
H. Melt, “I Don’t Want a Trans President” (August 23, 2021)
 
Haley Pessin, “What it Will Take to Defend Abortion Rights” (September 12, 2021)
 
Leta Hirschmann-Levy, “Never Again—Not for Anyone, Not Just the Jews” (February 24, 2022)
 
Dissenters, “Dissenters Opposes Imperialist Violence Everywhere” (February 25, 2022)
 
Dorothy Roberts, “Abolish Family Policing, Too” (June 2022)
 
Michelle Eisen, “No Contract, No Coffee!” (June 17, 2022)
 
Melissa Gira Grant, “The Fight for Abortion Rights Must Break the Law to Win” (June 24, 2022)
 
Permissions
Index
Introduction

This project continues work by Howard Zinn (1922–2010) in the book Voices of a People’s History of the United States and, before that, A People’s History of the United States, first published in 1980. In both books, Howard took inspiration and distilled critical lessons from countless people who worked to challenge oppression, exploitation, and injustice, participating in social movements that brought about changes many did not live to see in their own lifetime. Howard understood the power of listening to how these voices speak to our present and provide, in the words of Raymond Williams, “resources of hope.”

The book Voices of a People’s History of the United States has three editions. Howard worked on the first edition, published in 2004, and an updated second edition, published in 2009. For the third edition, published in 2014, Anthony Arnove updated the book with selections from the period after Howard’s death in 2010, seeking to foreground voices that spoke to Howard’s passions and concerns.

In beginning work on a fourth edition, especially inspired by the remarkable upsurge of activism for Black lives and liberation, which galvanized perhaps the largest protests in US history, our publisher, Dan Simon of Seven Stories Press, suggested a bold and compelling idea. Given that there were so many voices to add to this new edition, and given our wish to preserve all the selections of the original text, we would be severely limited by space. Could we create a new companion book focused on the voices of the people’s movements of the United States in the twenty-first century? So, while a fourth edition of Voices of a People’s History of the United States is forthcoming, we are extremely excited to have the opportunity here to delve more deeply into the many voices of protest and dissent in the United States in the twenty-first century.

In gathering these selections, we benefited tremendously from the work of the many people associated with the organization Voices of a People’s History of the United States, which has been working on stages and in schools since 2003 to bring primary-source texts of people’s history to new audiences. For these staged readings and classroom workshops, Voices has developed a living body of new texts beyond those gathered in the first and later editions of the book. We are extremely grateful to the actors, spoken word artists, musicians, teachers, students, librarians, researchers, and others who helped us source these documents and show us their resonance. Some of the texts here were first identified in our work on the documentary film The People Speak, which Howard Zinn wrote, directed, and produced. We are excited that some of these now appear in a Voices book for the first time.

Today, battle lines over how we understand US history are being drawn in real time. Following the 2020 protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality, right-wing politicians have sought to ban educators from teaching the 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory. Both serve as a catch-all for any acknowledgement that this country was founded through the genocide of Indigenous people and the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans whose labor produced the wealth of this country and served as the basis of its global empire.

Howard’s own work continues to be targeted by political forces threatened by an honest conversation of our history and an independent-minded population informed about the history of people speaking out for change. President Donald Trump invoked Howard Zinn a full decade after his death at the 2020 White House Conference on American History, attacking his work as “propaganda.” Without a hint of irony, Trump went on to call for the restoration of “patriotic education” to the nation’s schools. We couldn’t ask for a better endorsement to pick up a copy of or re-read A People’s History of the United States and other works by Howard Zinn.
Young people are not empty vessels, passively accepting whatever ideas they are taught. They deserve the opportunity to engage critically with the world and to decide what they think for themselves. Alongside teacher-activist Jesse Hagopian, whose speech “I’m Not Alone in Pledging to #TeachTruth” is featured in this collection, we stand with all educators who continue to teach the genuine history of this country and its traditions of resistance.

As we write this introduction, tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets around the country to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, culminating a decades-long effort by Republicans and the religious right to eliminate abortion rights in the United States. Just as mass movements in Argentina, Mexico, and Ireland have succeeded in expanding reproductive rights, the United States is headed in the opposite direction. In his concurring opinion, Clarence Thomas made clear that overturning Roe opens the door for the conservative-stacked court to take aim at other rights, such as those protecting contraception, gay marriage, and same-sex relationships.

All of this is a sober reminder that progress is not linear. Any positive reforms that workers, poor people, and the oppressed have wrested from the powerful can be taken away unless we organize to defend them. This is precisely why those who benefit most from the status quo are so fixated on controlling what we learn and how we talk about the past. They understand the power of history, because when we understand the past from the perspective of the oppressed, rather than the powerful, this calls into question the idea that this country has ever been committed to “liberty and justice for all” or that we could ever rely on the Supreme Court to protect our rights.
History told from this vantage, critically, also reveals the ways that, time and again, ordinary people have refused to accept unjust conditions. They spoke out, they fought back—and, sometimes, they won.

The last twenty-two years have witnessed historic concentrations of wealth and political power into fewer and fewer hands. As the COVID-19 pandemic claimed the lives of more than one million people in the United States and millions more globally, the wealth of the ten richest people on earth—nine of whom are from the United States— doubled from $700 billion to a staggering $1.5 trillion, according to a 2022 Oxfam report. This growing economic inequality has been accompanied by efforts to shift blame for mass unemployment and declining living standards away from the 1 percent—or, perhaps more accurately, the 0.1 percent—and onto some of the most disenfranchised communities, especially immigrants and those who are queer, trans, and people of color. It is a classic case of divide and conquer, and it has emboldened white supremacists to act violently, as in the mass shootings of Asian women at a spa in Atlanta, Georgia, or the targeted killing of Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

But this same period has also been one of explosive protest, from the anti-war movement against the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, to the massive 2006 Day Without an Immigrant, which brought a million people into the streets under the slogan “Undocumented and Unafraid,” to Occupy Wall Street, which reintroduced the concept of class into collective consciousness and popularized the language of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent (which Howard Zinn had used in A People’s History of the United States), to the Black Lives Matter movement and the “new abolitionists” (to borrow another phrase from Zinn), who insist that we imagine a society without police or prisons, to the explosive struggle at Standing Rock to defend Indigenous land and stop catastrophic climate change, to the teachers’ strike wave that revived the labor movement, even in so-called red states where striking is illegal, to the #MeToo movement against misogyny and systemic sexism, which gave voice to survivors of sexual violence, to the Brooklyn March for Black Trans Lives, which brought out fifteen thousand people, the largest such march to date.

The United States is far from alone in this regard: a 2021 study found that the number of protests in 101 countries and across borders more than tripled between 2006 and 2020, including some of the largest protests in history. What these protests had in common is that they emerged in response to “failures of democracy and of economic and social development, fueled by discontent and a lack of faith in the official political processes.” Protests in the United States during the pandemic further confirmed these sentiments, as employers attempted to force low-wage “essential workers” to risk their lives for the sake of profit. That burden fell disproportionately on Black people—already the targets of police brutality—who died at higher rates as the pandemic raged on.

Despite and because of the failure of federal and state governments to stop the chaos of disease and death, people came together in unexpected ways to do what the government would not. Communities created mutual aid groups to provide food, masks, and essential supplies for older, immunocompromised, and disabled people who could not afford to risk leaving their homes and potentially contracting the virus. Neighbors organized to keep those facing eviction from being kicked out onto the street as unemployment reached historic heights. Workers demanded the right to health and safety on the job, and refused to return to conditions that were intolerable long before the pandemic. People risked their own health and safety by mobilizing in massive, militant, multiracial protests to denounce anti-Black racism. Their actions embody Howard’s contention that to be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

By highlighting the voices of key activists and organizers who participated in the movements of this new century, we aim to show how social change has come about not through the actions of extraordinary individuals, but through ordinary people acting on their own behalf and in solidarity with each other. As Alicia Garza rightly points out in her speech “Why Black Lives Matter,” included in chapter 6, “It is important to us that we understand that movements are not begun by any one person.”

A number of the speeches, poems, and writings in this book feature the voices of activists and advocates with whom readers will likely be familiar. Others are by people who deserve to be more widely known. We are deeply honored to feature the text of Angela Y. Davis’s speech to the Women’s March on Washington; Chelsea E. Manning’s statement read aloud by her attorneys ahead of her prison sentence for leaking classified documents that exposed US war crimes in Iraq; Naomi Klein’s message delivered at Zuccotti Park at the height of Occupy Wall Street; the words of Bree Newsome, who scaled the flagpole outside the South Carolina State Capitol building to remove the Confederate Flag; and the open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by Christian Smalls, the Amazon worker who was fired for organizing during the pandemic, only to become the leader of the first successful effort to unionize Amazon, among others. But we are equally excited for readers to encounter, perhaps for the first time, other voices, including Airickca Gordon-Taylor, the cousin of Emmett Till; Toni Smith-Thompson, the college basketball player who refused to stand for the National Anthem twelve years before Colin Kaepernick took a knee in protest against police murders of Black people; Naomi Wadler, who at eleven years old was the youngest speaker at the March for Our Lives and spoke on behalf of Black girls whose deaths by gun violence rarely make headlines; Steven Salaita, who was fired from his university for speaking out against Israel’s brutality toward Palestinians; and Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez, a young Indigenous activist who offers a powerful vision of a just future for people and the planet.

Thanks to these and countless other rebels, today’s movements are far less likely to be single-issue and more likely to see struggles against capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, colonialism, and imperialism as linked. Our ability to more readily make these connections reflects the fact that movements are rarely self-contained: they cross-pollinate, build upon each other, and open space for activists to draw new connections and work across division. We owe to all of these activists a debt of gratitude for putting us on firmer ground to forge the solidarity needed to build a better world.

What unites these selections is that each person spoke out, took action, or intervened at a critical juncture. They were not merely identifying unjust conditions, but resisting them, sometimes at great personal risk. By breaking a silence, by picking a side, the voices we have gathered have individually and collectively generated the potential for another person, and then another, and then another to stand up and take meaningful action, often in ways they could not have anticipated. They remind us that what we do matters, that there is hope in resistance, and that in speaking out, we are never alone.

—Anthony Arnove and Haley Pessin

About

Twenty-first century social movements come to life through speeches, essays, and other documents of activism, protest, and social change.

Gathering more than 100 texts from social movements that have shaped the 21st century, this powerful book includes contributions from Angela Y. Davis, Nick Estes, Colin Kaepernick, Rebecca Solnit, Christian Smalls, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Howard Zinn, Rev. William Barber, Bree Newsome, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Tarana J. Burke, Dream Defenders, Sins Invalid, Mariame Kaba, Naomi Klein, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Linda Sarsour, Chelsea E. Manning, Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, Julian Brave NoiseCat, H. Melt, and others.
 
Inspired by the original Voices of a People’s History of the United States, the book features speeches, essays, poems, and calls to action from Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Indigenous struggles, immigrant rights activists, the environmental movement, disability justice organizers, and frontline workers during the global pandemic who spoke out against the life-threatening conditions of their labor. Together, their words remind us that history is made not only by the rich and powerful, but by ordinary people taking collective action.

Table of Contents


Contents
Introduction
Acknowledgments
 
Prologue: Howard Zinn, “Against Discouragement” (May 15, 2005)
 
 
CHAPTER 1: FIGHTING WAR AND INJUSTICE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
 
Anita Cameron, “And the Steps Came Tumbling Down—ADAPT’s Battle with the HBA” (2000)
 
Manning Marable, “Race, Class, and Globalization: The Global Struggle for Democracy” (April 13, 2001)
 
Kenny Riley, “We Won’t Rest Until They’re Vindicated” (July 4, 2001)
 
Orlando Rodriguez and Phyllis Rodriguez, “Not in Our Son’s Name” (September 15, 2001)
 
Monami Maulik, “Organizing in Our Communities Post–September 11th” (2001)
Boots Riley, “Heven Tonite” (November 6, 2001)
 
Rita Lasar, “To Avoid Another September 11, United States Must Join the World” (September 5, 2002)
 
Rachel Corrie, Letter from Palestine (February 7, 2003)
 
Danny Glover, Speech During the World Day of Protest Against the War (February 15, 2003)

Amy Goodman, “Independent Media in a Time of War” (April 21, 2003)
 
Arundhati Roy, “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free)” (May 13, 2003)
 
Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams (June 15, 2003)
 
Toni Smith-Thompson, “If They Don’t Want Politics in Sports Then They Need to Take the National Anthem Out” (March 12, 2004)
 
Camilo Mejía, “I Pledge My Allegiance to the Poor and Oppressed” (July 3, 2005)
 
Cindy Sheehan, “It’s Time the Antiwar Choir Started Singing” (August 5, 2005)
 
 
CHAPTER 2: THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE KATRINA
 
Patricia Thompson, Kalamu Ya Salaam, and Father Jerome Ledoux, Voices from the Storm (Fall 2005)
 
Howard Zinn, “Don’t Despair about the Supreme Court” (October 21, 2005)
 
Elvira Arellano, Statement of Elvira Arellano in Sanctuary (August 15, 2006).
 
Evann Orleck-Jetter, Statement on Marriage Equality (March 18, 2009)
 
Moustafa Bayoumi, “My Arab Problem” (October 24, 2010)
 
Gustavo Madrigal-Piña, “Undocumented and Unafraid” (August 22, 2011)
 
Troy Davis, Letter Given to His Lawyers Before His Execution (September 21, 2011)
 

CHAPTER 3: OCCUPY OPENS A NEW ERA
 
Occupy NYC General Assembly, Declaration of the Occupation of New York City (September 29, 2011)
 
Manissa Maharawal, “So Real it Hurts—Notes on Occupy Wall Street” (October 4, 2011)
 
Naomi Klein, “Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now” (October 6, 2011)
 
Kirstin Roberts, “We Stood Up to the Bullies” (October 6, 2012)
 
Farea Al-Muslimi, “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing” (April 23, 2013)
 
Roberto Meneses Marquez, “A Day Laborer” (April 30, 2013)
 
Amber Kudla, “518-455-4767” (June 23, 2013)
 
Chelsea E. Manning, “Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society” (August 21, 2013)
 
 
CHAPTER 4: STANDING UP FOR EACH OTHER
 
Phillip Agnew, “#OurMarch” (August 28, 2013)
 
Airickca Gordon-Taylor, “No Justice, No Peace: Families of Police Brutality Victims Speak Out” (June 28, 2014)
 
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, “Standing Up for Each Other” (March 10, 2014)
 
Michelle Farber, “We All Have to Be Brave” (May 14, 2014)
 
Michelle Alexander, “How to Dismantle the ‘New Jim Crow’” (July 2014)
 
Ursula K. Le Guin, Speech in Acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (November 19, 2014)
 
 
CHAPTER 5: THE FERGUSON UPRISING, BARACK OBAMA, AND THE LIMITS OF “EQUALITY”
 
Tef Poe, “Dear Mr. President” (December 1, 2014)
 
Ferguson Action, “About This Movement” (December 15, 2014)
 
Amanda Blackhorse, “This Is What Dehumanization Looks Like” (March 21, 2015)
 
Ross Gay, “A Small Needful Fact” (April 30, 2015)
 
Bree Newsome, “Now Is the Time for True Courage” (June 30, 2015)
 
Sins Invalid, “10 Principles of Disability Justice” (September 17, 2015)
 
Dream Defenders, “Social Media Blackout” (September 21, 2015)
 
Lindy West, “I Set Up #ShoutYourAbortion Because I Am Not Sorry, and I Will Not Whisper” (September 22, 2015)
 
Samaria Rice, “Why I Have Not Endorsed Any Candidate: Reflections from a Mom of the Movement” (March 15, 2016)
 
Alicia Garza, “Why Black Lives Matter” (March 18, 2016)
 
Chanel Miller, “Impact Statement” (June 3, 2016)
 
Nick Estes, “Native Liberation: The Way Forward” (August 13, 2016)
 
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, “The Urgency of Intersectionality” (October 27, 2016)
 
Leonard Peltier, “Our Day of Mourning” (November 30, 2016)
 
 
CHAPTER 6: “1,459 DAYS OF RESISTANCE”: RESISTING TRUMPISM AND THE FAR RIGHT
 
Angela Y. Davis, Speech to the Women’s March on Washington (January 21, 2017)
 
Addie Bean, “Dear Donald Trump” (January 21, 2017)
 
Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions (2017)
 
Bhairavi Desai, “A Moment of Urgency” (February 16, 2017)

Julian Brave NoiseCat, “Standing Rock Is Burning But Our Resistance Isn’t Over” (February 23, 2017)
 
Luticha Doucette, “If You’re in a Wheelchair, Segregation Lives” (May 17, 2017)
 
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Keynote at Hampshire College’s 2017 Commencement Ceremony (May 20, 2017)
 
Linda Sarsour, “Islamophobes Are Attacking Me Because I’m Their Worst Nightmare” (July 9, 2017)
 
Steven Salaita, “Don’t Let Fear Be the Lesson” (July 25, 2017)
 
Victoria-Lola M. Leon Guerrero, “An Open Letter from Guam to America” (August 10, 2017)
 
Jack Christian and Warren Christian, “The Monuments Must Go” (August 16, 2017)
 
Susan Bro, “They Tried to Kill My Child to Shut Her Up” (August 16, 2017)
 
Khury Petersen-Smith, Speech at the Fight Supremacy! Boston Counter-Protest and Resistance Rally (August 19, 2017)
 
 
CHAPTER 7: “WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED”: #METOO AND THE ONGOING RESISTANCE TO TRUMP
 
V, “Even with a Misogynist Predator-in-Chief, We Will Not Be Silenced” (August 23, 2017)
 
Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, “How We Can Organize the South to Save the Country” (September 1, 2017)
 
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, “700,000 Female Farmworkers Say They Stand with Hollywood Actors Against Sexual Assault” (November 10, 2017)
 
Naseem Johnson Byah, “I Need My Mom, My Family, and My Home” (December 14, 2017)
 
X González, “We Call BS” (February 17, 2018)
 
Katie Endicott, “How the Spark Became a Flame in West Virginia” (March 12, 2018)
 

Naomi Wadler, “I Speak for Black Girls Victimized by Guns Whose Stories Don’t Make the Front Page” (March 24, 2018)
 
Colin Kaepernick, Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award Speech (April 21, 2018)
 
Malinda Limberhand, “A Mother’s Walk for Justice” (May 5, 2018)
 
Carol Anderson, “Voting While Black” (June 7, 2018)
 
Mercedes Martínez, “Hurricane Maria Just Uncovered What’s Been Happening in Puerto Rico for Decades” (June 12, 2018)
 
Victor Ricardo Plua, “Don’t Put Children in Cages! Reunite Families Now!” (June 28, 2018)
 
Winona LaDuke, “Militarizing Minnesota over Line 3” (October 3, 2018)
 
 
CHAPTER 8: “OUR RESISTANCE MUST BE INTERSECTIONAL”
 
African American Policy Forum, “Our Fights Are Connected; Our Resistance Must Be Intersectional” (November 2, 2018)
 
Marc Lamont Hill, “Our Solidarity Must Be a Verb” (November 28, 2018)
 
aja monet, Smoke Signals Studio Artists Manifesto (February 1, 2019)
 
Microsoft Workers 4 Good, “We Did Not Sign Up to Develop Weapons” (February 22, 2019)
 
Isra Hirsi, Haven Coleman, and Alexandria Villaseñor, “Adults Won’t Take Climate Change Seriously. So We, the Youth, Are Forced to Strike” (March 7, 2019)
 
Lenny Sanchez, “Why I’m Striking Against Uber” (May 8, 2019)
 
Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Testimony to the House on Reparations” (June 19, 2019)
 
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, et al., “Pastoral Letter on the El Paso Shootings” (August 8, 2019)
 
Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez, “To Fight for a Just Climate Is to Fight for Everything That We Love” (September 9, 2019)
 
Stacey Park Milbern, “We Need Power to Live” (October 10, 2019)
 
Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, “For All the Aunties, but Especially for Mary Maxine Lani Kahaulelio” (October 28, 2019).
 
Tarana J. Burke, “The #MeToo Movement’s Success Took a Decade of Work, Not Just a Hashtag. And There’s More to Do” (December 31, 2019)
 
Antonia Crane, “Dispatch from the California Stripper Strike” (February 8, 2021)
 
Maggie Trinkle, “I (Don’t) Want a Wife” (April 16, 2020)
 
 
CHAPTER 9: “THE REAL PANDEMIC HERE IS CAPITALISM”
 
Astra Taylor, “The Real Pandemic Here Is Capitalism” (March 26, 2020)
 
Christian Smalls, “Dear Jeff Bezos, Instead of Firing Me, Protect Your Workers from Coronavirus” (April 2, 2020)
 
Adam Kaszynski, “You Could Start Making Parts for Ventilators within Twenty-four Hours” (April 9, 2020)
 
Emily Pierskalla, “I Want My Death to Make You Angry” (April 13, 2020)
 
Stacy Davis Gates, “They’re Not Going to Save Us. We Are Going to Save Us” (May 1, 2020)
 
Sujatha Gidla, “‘We Are Not Essential. We Are Sacrificial’” (May 5, 2020)
 
Lateef McLeod, “Disability Justice and COVID-19” (May 8, 2020)
 
Jill Nelson, “Trump = Plague” (May 11, 2020)
 
 
CHAPTER 10: ABOLITION AND THE UPRISING FOR BLACK LIVES
 
Natasha Cloud, “Your Silence Is a Knee on My Neck” (May 30, 2020)
 
Olivia Olson, “This Is What’s Really Happening in Minneapolis” (June 3, 2020)
 

8toAbolition, “#8toAbolition: Abolition Can’t Wait” (June 7, 2020)
 
Mariame Kaba, “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police: Because Reform Won’t Happen” (June 12, 2020)
 
Ianne Fields Stewart, “Today Is the Last Day of Trans Oppression” (June 14, 2020)
 
Imani Perry, “Racism Is Terrible. Blackness Is Not.” (June 15, 2020)
 
 
CHAPTER 11: “TRUMPISM CAN’T BE VOTED AWAY”

Viet Thanh Nguyen, “Asian Americans Are Still Caught in the Trap of the ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype. And It Creates Inequality for All” (June 25, 2020)
 
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “I Could Not Allow That to Stand” (July 23, 2020)
 
Melania Brown, “My Sister Layleen Polanco Died Alone in Rikers. Solitary Confinement Is Torture” (July 23, 2020)
 
Barbara Smith, “How to Dismantle White Supremacy” (August 21, 2020)
 
Anna Kuperman, “The Emperor Has No Clothes” (September 8, 2020)
 
Mumia Abu-Jamal, “Inside the Inside of Lockdown America” (September 14, 2020)
 
Barbara Ransby, “Trumpism Can’t Be Voted Away. We Need Radical Social Transformation.” (November 18, 2020)
 
Hakeem Jefferson, “Storming the US Capitol Was about Maintaining White Power in America” (January 8, 2021)
 
 
CHAPTER 12: THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES

Jesse Hagopian, “I’m Not Alone in Pledging to #TeachTruth” (June 12, 2021)
 
Cheri Renfro, “Dear Frito-Lay” (July 2, 2021)

Red Canary Song, “Radical Healing from State and Community Violence: Mourning with Asian Massage Workers in the Americas” (August 17, 2021)
 
H. Melt, “I Don’t Want a Trans President” (August 23, 2021)
 
Haley Pessin, “What it Will Take to Defend Abortion Rights” (September 12, 2021)
 
Leta Hirschmann-Levy, “Never Again—Not for Anyone, Not Just the Jews” (February 24, 2022)
 
Dissenters, “Dissenters Opposes Imperialist Violence Everywhere” (February 25, 2022)
 
Dorothy Roberts, “Abolish Family Policing, Too” (June 2022)
 
Michelle Eisen, “No Contract, No Coffee!” (June 17, 2022)
 
Melissa Gira Grant, “The Fight for Abortion Rights Must Break the Law to Win” (June 24, 2022)
 
Permissions
Index

Excerpt

Introduction

This project continues work by Howard Zinn (1922–2010) in the book Voices of a People’s History of the United States and, before that, A People’s History of the United States, first published in 1980. In both books, Howard took inspiration and distilled critical lessons from countless people who worked to challenge oppression, exploitation, and injustice, participating in social movements that brought about changes many did not live to see in their own lifetime. Howard understood the power of listening to how these voices speak to our present and provide, in the words of Raymond Williams, “resources of hope.”

The book Voices of a People’s History of the United States has three editions. Howard worked on the first edition, published in 2004, and an updated second edition, published in 2009. For the third edition, published in 2014, Anthony Arnove updated the book with selections from the period after Howard’s death in 2010, seeking to foreground voices that spoke to Howard’s passions and concerns.

In beginning work on a fourth edition, especially inspired by the remarkable upsurge of activism for Black lives and liberation, which galvanized perhaps the largest protests in US history, our publisher, Dan Simon of Seven Stories Press, suggested a bold and compelling idea. Given that there were so many voices to add to this new edition, and given our wish to preserve all the selections of the original text, we would be severely limited by space. Could we create a new companion book focused on the voices of the people’s movements of the United States in the twenty-first century? So, while a fourth edition of Voices of a People’s History of the United States is forthcoming, we are extremely excited to have the opportunity here to delve more deeply into the many voices of protest and dissent in the United States in the twenty-first century.

In gathering these selections, we benefited tremendously from the work of the many people associated with the organization Voices of a People’s History of the United States, which has been working on stages and in schools since 2003 to bring primary-source texts of people’s history to new audiences. For these staged readings and classroom workshops, Voices has developed a living body of new texts beyond those gathered in the first and later editions of the book. We are extremely grateful to the actors, spoken word artists, musicians, teachers, students, librarians, researchers, and others who helped us source these documents and show us their resonance. Some of the texts here were first identified in our work on the documentary film The People Speak, which Howard Zinn wrote, directed, and produced. We are excited that some of these now appear in a Voices book for the first time.

Today, battle lines over how we understand US history are being drawn in real time. Following the 2020 protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality, right-wing politicians have sought to ban educators from teaching the 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory. Both serve as a catch-all for any acknowledgement that this country was founded through the genocide of Indigenous people and the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans whose labor produced the wealth of this country and served as the basis of its global empire.

Howard’s own work continues to be targeted by political forces threatened by an honest conversation of our history and an independent-minded population informed about the history of people speaking out for change. President Donald Trump invoked Howard Zinn a full decade after his death at the 2020 White House Conference on American History, attacking his work as “propaganda.” Without a hint of irony, Trump went on to call for the restoration of “patriotic education” to the nation’s schools. We couldn’t ask for a better endorsement to pick up a copy of or re-read A People’s History of the United States and other works by Howard Zinn.
Young people are not empty vessels, passively accepting whatever ideas they are taught. They deserve the opportunity to engage critically with the world and to decide what they think for themselves. Alongside teacher-activist Jesse Hagopian, whose speech “I’m Not Alone in Pledging to #TeachTruth” is featured in this collection, we stand with all educators who continue to teach the genuine history of this country and its traditions of resistance.

As we write this introduction, tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets around the country to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, culminating a decades-long effort by Republicans and the religious right to eliminate abortion rights in the United States. Just as mass movements in Argentina, Mexico, and Ireland have succeeded in expanding reproductive rights, the United States is headed in the opposite direction. In his concurring opinion, Clarence Thomas made clear that overturning Roe opens the door for the conservative-stacked court to take aim at other rights, such as those protecting contraception, gay marriage, and same-sex relationships.

All of this is a sober reminder that progress is not linear. Any positive reforms that workers, poor people, and the oppressed have wrested from the powerful can be taken away unless we organize to defend them. This is precisely why those who benefit most from the status quo are so fixated on controlling what we learn and how we talk about the past. They understand the power of history, because when we understand the past from the perspective of the oppressed, rather than the powerful, this calls into question the idea that this country has ever been committed to “liberty and justice for all” or that we could ever rely on the Supreme Court to protect our rights.
History told from this vantage, critically, also reveals the ways that, time and again, ordinary people have refused to accept unjust conditions. They spoke out, they fought back—and, sometimes, they won.

The last twenty-two years have witnessed historic concentrations of wealth and political power into fewer and fewer hands. As the COVID-19 pandemic claimed the lives of more than one million people in the United States and millions more globally, the wealth of the ten richest people on earth—nine of whom are from the United States— doubled from $700 billion to a staggering $1.5 trillion, according to a 2022 Oxfam report. This growing economic inequality has been accompanied by efforts to shift blame for mass unemployment and declining living standards away from the 1 percent—or, perhaps more accurately, the 0.1 percent—and onto some of the most disenfranchised communities, especially immigrants and those who are queer, trans, and people of color. It is a classic case of divide and conquer, and it has emboldened white supremacists to act violently, as in the mass shootings of Asian women at a spa in Atlanta, Georgia, or the targeted killing of Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

But this same period has also been one of explosive protest, from the anti-war movement against the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, to the massive 2006 Day Without an Immigrant, which brought a million people into the streets under the slogan “Undocumented and Unafraid,” to Occupy Wall Street, which reintroduced the concept of class into collective consciousness and popularized the language of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent (which Howard Zinn had used in A People’s History of the United States), to the Black Lives Matter movement and the “new abolitionists” (to borrow another phrase from Zinn), who insist that we imagine a society without police or prisons, to the explosive struggle at Standing Rock to defend Indigenous land and stop catastrophic climate change, to the teachers’ strike wave that revived the labor movement, even in so-called red states where striking is illegal, to the #MeToo movement against misogyny and systemic sexism, which gave voice to survivors of sexual violence, to the Brooklyn March for Black Trans Lives, which brought out fifteen thousand people, the largest such march to date.

The United States is far from alone in this regard: a 2021 study found that the number of protests in 101 countries and across borders more than tripled between 2006 and 2020, including some of the largest protests in history. What these protests had in common is that they emerged in response to “failures of democracy and of economic and social development, fueled by discontent and a lack of faith in the official political processes.” Protests in the United States during the pandemic further confirmed these sentiments, as employers attempted to force low-wage “essential workers” to risk their lives for the sake of profit. That burden fell disproportionately on Black people—already the targets of police brutality—who died at higher rates as the pandemic raged on.

Despite and because of the failure of federal and state governments to stop the chaos of disease and death, people came together in unexpected ways to do what the government would not. Communities created mutual aid groups to provide food, masks, and essential supplies for older, immunocompromised, and disabled people who could not afford to risk leaving their homes and potentially contracting the virus. Neighbors organized to keep those facing eviction from being kicked out onto the street as unemployment reached historic heights. Workers demanded the right to health and safety on the job, and refused to return to conditions that were intolerable long before the pandemic. People risked their own health and safety by mobilizing in massive, militant, multiracial protests to denounce anti-Black racism. Their actions embody Howard’s contention that to be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

By highlighting the voices of key activists and organizers who participated in the movements of this new century, we aim to show how social change has come about not through the actions of extraordinary individuals, but through ordinary people acting on their own behalf and in solidarity with each other. As Alicia Garza rightly points out in her speech “Why Black Lives Matter,” included in chapter 6, “It is important to us that we understand that movements are not begun by any one person.”

A number of the speeches, poems, and writings in this book feature the voices of activists and advocates with whom readers will likely be familiar. Others are by people who deserve to be more widely known. We are deeply honored to feature the text of Angela Y. Davis’s speech to the Women’s March on Washington; Chelsea E. Manning’s statement read aloud by her attorneys ahead of her prison sentence for leaking classified documents that exposed US war crimes in Iraq; Naomi Klein’s message delivered at Zuccotti Park at the height of Occupy Wall Street; the words of Bree Newsome, who scaled the flagpole outside the South Carolina State Capitol building to remove the Confederate Flag; and the open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by Christian Smalls, the Amazon worker who was fired for organizing during the pandemic, only to become the leader of the first successful effort to unionize Amazon, among others. But we are equally excited for readers to encounter, perhaps for the first time, other voices, including Airickca Gordon-Taylor, the cousin of Emmett Till; Toni Smith-Thompson, the college basketball player who refused to stand for the National Anthem twelve years before Colin Kaepernick took a knee in protest against police murders of Black people; Naomi Wadler, who at eleven years old was the youngest speaker at the March for Our Lives and spoke on behalf of Black girls whose deaths by gun violence rarely make headlines; Steven Salaita, who was fired from his university for speaking out against Israel’s brutality toward Palestinians; and Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez, a young Indigenous activist who offers a powerful vision of a just future for people and the planet.

Thanks to these and countless other rebels, today’s movements are far less likely to be single-issue and more likely to see struggles against capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, colonialism, and imperialism as linked. Our ability to more readily make these connections reflects the fact that movements are rarely self-contained: they cross-pollinate, build upon each other, and open space for activists to draw new connections and work across division. We owe to all of these activists a debt of gratitude for putting us on firmer ground to forge the solidarity needed to build a better world.

What unites these selections is that each person spoke out, took action, or intervened at a critical juncture. They were not merely identifying unjust conditions, but resisting them, sometimes at great personal risk. By breaking a silence, by picking a side, the voices we have gathered have individually and collectively generated the potential for another person, and then another, and then another to stand up and take meaningful action, often in ways they could not have anticipated. They remind us that what we do matters, that there is hope in resistance, and that in speaking out, we are never alone.

—Anthony Arnove and Haley Pessin

Books for Black History Month

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