Adrienne Rich and George Jackson


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

 in which

 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.”




Government for some

”I feel that the federal government have proven that it don’t care about poor people.  Everything that we have asked for through these years had been handed down on paper.  It’s never been a reality.  We the poor people of Mississippi is tired.  we’re tired 0f it so we’re going to build for ourselves, because we don’t have a government that represents us.”

These are the words of Mrs. Unita Blackwell, A local woman.  After seen and witnessing the reluctance of  Congress to passed  laws against civil rights time after time.  However, after war world 2, racism was denounced but segregation was still present in the military between blacks and white service men.  President Harry Truman either by necessity or expediency  in 1946 appointed a committee on civil Rights, which recommended that laws to be passed against lynching, and to end voting  discrimination  and racial discrimination in jobs. Even in the present of convincing argument that passing civil Rights laws wasn’t just for moral reasons but for economic reasons as well, congress did nothing to enact the legislations proposed by the committee. With these kinds of inaction, congress became a stumbling block against civil right in that era of the struggle.

More so, Blackwell’s words could have been as a result of witnessing the  no enforcement position taken by the FBI or the police in the present of violent against black during the civil Right era.  Is it not the duty of the FBI or Police to protect all against the commission of crime? or were members of some group excluded from that protection  in the constitution?  Furthermore, with the kind vehement and aggression the FBI went against the civil Right activists, especially Dr. Martin Luther King, one is left with no other theory but to conclude that there was a hidden motive by the government to undermine the effort of the civil Right advocates.  Is the government turning to murder and terror because all else has failed to suppress the voices of the suppressed?

Zinn in this chapter shows among other things how the laws against segregation, Lynching was not enforced by the branch of government that is charged to do so.  And that if Congress had acted sooner, much killing would have been avoided, especially that of the three civil rights workers James Chaney, a young black Mississippian, and two white volunteers, Andrew Good and Michael Schwerner.  That killing would have been prevented if the a law that barred discrimination in interstate transportation in 1887 was enforced.

A Priviledged Slave

When Stephen’s involvement in almost all the affairs in Candyland is scrutinized a little closely,  One begin to wonder, how did a slave ascend to that kind of a stature.  As we saw from the film, Stephen’s advise and inputs was second to none in the plantation among the other slaves.  What make him so powerful and important? Is it because he has lived in Candyland longer than any other slave.  Or is it because he has been loyal through the years.  But the portrayal and demeanor of Stephen in the film suggest that of a manipulative and cunning individual that won’t hesitate to destroy anyone on his path in other to achieve a good standing in the eyes of his master.

For Stephen to have so much influence and able to earn unqualified trust of Calvin Candie, a sadistic, power driven, evil slaves owner is a sort of a mystery.  His inputs are so important that he was able to make Mr. Candie attend to what ever he has to say in a middle of a business transaction with Dr. Schultz and Django Freeman.  Has Stephen in the past  foiled a major insurrection by the slaves by making the plan known to the master even when he was a critical player in the making of the plan.  By so doing having those other slaves killed, but him becoming the master’s right hand man.

If his portrayal is that of a manipulative person, then the trajectory of the loyalty maybe multifaceted or mischievous.  Was his high stature because of his hard work or was it because of his lust for power to the extent of being against the other slaves?.  Or is his loyalty due to the long years in servitude?.  We know from the movie that Stephen knows the plantation very well, he has the ears of his master, he is consulted in any affairs that takes place in the plantation, especially those that has to deal with the other slaves.  He is revered at the same time feared by the other slaves.  He is another kind of slave.  A slave with so much power  that almost equal that of the master.  But this loyalty that gave him so much power can also be questionable.  We saw from the scene before he met his death in the hands of Django that he was not really crippled but a show he put on at the plantation.  With that kind of an act, one has no other inclination but to assume also that his loyalty towards his master was not genuine.  If there is another alternative, Stephen will be against his masters also.

Though the film is presented in a comic style by Tarantino, it deals with the actual power dynamics that existed within slavery in the slave era.