Matt Damon reads from Howard Zinn’s speech “The Problem is Civil Obedience” (November 1970)
Matt Damon, a lifelong friend of Howard Zinn and his family, read excerpts from a speech Howard Zinn gave in 1970 as part of a debate on civil disobedience.
This performance was part of “The People Speak, Live!” with Matt Damon and Lupe Fiasco at the Metro in Chicago, on January 31, 2012, produced by Voices of a People’s History (peopleshistory.us) in collaboration with Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival.
Here’s what Howard Zinn writes about this speech in his introduction to the full piece in his book Voices of a People’s History of the United States, written with Anthony Arnove and first published in 2004 by Seven Stories Press:
“In November 1970, after my arrest along with others who had engaged in a Boston protest at an army base to block soldiers from being sent to Vietnam, I flew to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to take part in a debate with the philosopher Charles Frankel on civil disobedience.
I was supposed to appear in court that day in connection with the charges resulting from the army base protest.
I had a choice: show up in court and miss this opportunity to explain — and practice — my commitment to civil disobedience, or face the consequences of defying the court order by going to Baltimore.
I chose to go. The next day, when I returned to Boston, I went to teach my morning class at Boston University.
Two detectives were waiting outside the classroom and hauled me off to court, where I was sentenced to a few days in jail. Here is the text of my speech that night at Johns Hopkins.”
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