There are speeches by famous people, but not the speeches we've heard recorded. For instance there's a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. explaining why it is essential that he come out in public as being against the Vietnam war. Then there are the speeches that were never allowed to be given. Some poor soul made the mistake of inviting Wamsutta James of the Wampanoag nation to speak at the 350th anniversary celebrations of the landing at Plymouth Rock. The organizing committee took one look at his proposed speech and refused to let him speak as his version of events didn't quite jibe with the celebratory mood they were trying to create. Maybe it was his descriptions of putting people in chains or the Pilgrims stealing the Indians' winter food supplies, but it certainly didn't sound much like the descriptions of the first Thanksgiving that most of us have been weaned on.
Reading through a history of America taken from the point of view of those who have dissented, those who have stood up bravely in the face of people who would deprive them of their rights, and those who have dared disagree with the status quo and seeing how it was these people, just as much as the politicians, the generals, and the captains of industry who shaped its future, might make you want to rethink what you hear being passed off as history in the making on today's news. What are the voices who disagree with them saying now? Is it possible that they are as right in their statements as Susan B. Anthony was in her address to the court which tried her for illegally voting because she was a woman? Perhaps they are and perhaps they aren't, but how are we to know if we're not allowed to hear them?
History is all of our stories come together, whether we are participants or observers. In Voices Of A People's History Of The United States, Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove have gathered together some of the voices like ours from history and told the story of the United States from the time of Columbus to those who oppose the empire-building mentality that exists in today's America. Each segment is introduced and given its historical context so you know why the person is speaking out and what about. If you still think it was a benevolent government that ensured black people were given the vote and schools were integrated then you really need to read this book to learn your own history and perhaps see how you too can have a role in it.