Zinn’s style of historical account is that of the bottom-up. He focuses more on that segment of history- the powerless, the have-not, the marginalized and the minority that is often neglected by the so call ”popular historians”. He skillfully analyze the struggle between the powerless and the powerful, the system against the people through individual experience, contributions and movements. Be it individual contribution or collective effort like the civil right movement, the feminist movement, Gay right activism, Prison protest, etc.. He believe that with persistence and well organized revolt and rebellion, it is inevitable that the old order will be turned upside down.
One of these minority and marginalized segment that the rebellion against the system was taken root in 60s and 70s was The women movement. Rightly stated, “Feminist Movement.” Contrary to what opponents labeled them to be, feminism is the demand for equal right and protection. Protection from sex discrimination and rape. But this time this demand want from being passive to being militant. For the first time, women were protesting and revolting against the injustice that has been perpetuated against them by the patriarchal system. The system was “surprise” that because of this common goal for justice shared by the women, racial barriers was broken. Women from all works of life- black, white, Latino, Gay and straight came together to demand the right to choose what to do with their body.
Women used all means necessary to make there voice heard. Some quietly worked behind the scene, while others organized their neighborhood. Some were visible by joining the picket line and demonstrated and protested on the street. While others use the pen as a weapon of the revolution. They wrote poems, essays and books about the injustice against women by the system. Most of these brave women were called name like revolutionaries, communists, atypical. One women worth mentioning among the host of others is Adrienne Rich. Rich was an American essayist, poet and feminist. She was an influential and widely read poet of the 20th century. During her life, she forcefully uses her poetic talent to fight the oppression of women and lesbians. In 1997 she rejected the award of National Medal of Arts in protest of congress to end the National Endowment for the Arts and because of similar policies by the Clinton’s Administration. In her poem, Diving into the Wreck, Rich wrote
“We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.”
While living in New York, Adrienne Rich hosted anti-war and Black Panthers fundraising parties. She died in 2012 in Santa Cruz, California.
Around the same time, there was another similar agitation brewing. In the darkest, lonely and forgotten segment of the society, voices were rising against injustice. Whoever suspected that a revolt started in the prison will climb to national recognition? Once again, it came as a “surprise” to the system. In examining that segment of history that is often neglected, Zinn wrote about the protests and revolts in the prisons, specifically using the experience or involvement of individuals. One of such individuals is George Jackson. Jackson was a political prisoner in Soledad prison. He became an African-American activist, Marxist,a member of the Black Panther, and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla Family while in prison. The story given by the system about his death in the hands of San Quentin prison guards, was full of suspicion and conspiracy. The cover up of what really happen spark many rebellions and protests in prisons around the country. In using Jackson to depicts this longing for equal right and better conditions, Zinn is showing that revolution can begin anywhere. It does not matter the condition, it does not matter the darkness, a person willing to speak out against the system, that is all is needed to sow that seed that will eventually overthrow the system. But will sometime come with the person paying the ultimate sacrifice for the course. Because the system is brutal and will not stop until they stamp out all those who try to speak against the malfunction or injustice in the system. George Jackson rightly put it himself when he wrote, “……..Anyone who can pass the civil service examination today can kill me tomorrow……with complete immunity.”