Up until the late 60’s and early 70’s, women were regarded merely as possessions. They held little voice in politics, in fact they had very little authority even in their own households. Zinn includes Shirley Chisholm because she was women who speaks on behalf of all women. She was a women who was not afraid to stand to the oppressors. She was a women who inspired all women. Chisholm states,
“The Law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes… We must replace the old, negative thoughts about our femininity with positive thoughts and positive action…”
Through these words Chisholm was able to inspire a nation of unconfident and insecure women into revolutionary figures. Women began holding meetings, large meetings in each others homes. These “women groups” were instrumental in restructuring the social formation of the nation. Women quickly acquired the confidence to step up and to set things right. Though it wasn’t achieved overnight, Chisholm’s words acted as a catalyst in bringing about equality amongst men and women. The reason Zinn includes this particular example is because it shows how ordinary people, in this case women were able to revolutionize the country by simply building off the words of one another. Moreover it shows how vital women were in transforming this country by eliminating gender inequalities.
Another example Zinn analyses is the the account of Sid Mills. Sid Mills was a Yakima and Cherokee Indian. He was an ordinary man seeking equality like Chisholm. Part of Indians’ lives was fishing, however during the latter 60’s and 70’s much of the government ignored Indians’ rights to fish, and by doing so led to righteous protests from the Indian community. The protests led to the deaths of many innocent Indians. Mills writes,
“My first obligation now lies with the Indian people fighting for the lawful treaty to fish in usual and accustomed water of the Nisqually… and in serving them in this fight in any way possible… What kind of government or society would spend millions of dollars to pick upon our bones, restore our ancestral life patterns, and protect our ancient remains from damage-while at the same time eating upon the flesh of our living People…? We will fight for our rights.”
Mills has a very legitimate point he brings up. Why would the government destroy something they are trying to protect. Not only that, why would they spend millions of dollars doing something that is essentially only provoking the situation and making it worse. Zinn includes this piece because it demonstrates the intellectual capacity of the people, and shows the loopholes in government decision making. The Indians are a part of this country, they are the native inhabitants of this country. They are not to be ridiculed and neglected. Zinn shows how people stand up for their rights, how they never back down. Indians fought because they cared because they were being stripped off their lifestyles. They didn’t fight just to fight back like the government did. They fought because they couldn’t take defeat, because this was who they were. They were people fighting for themselves, and by doing so were able to inspire other Indians in a revolutionary manner to make their presence known. They were the ultimate surprise package, and that is ultimately why Zinn decided to include it.
“If we are arrested every day, if we are exploited every day, if we are trampled over every day, don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight, we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.“
– Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King was a preacher. He fought with words, motivation and respect. This angered some of the black community, as “respect” didn’t satisfy their desires. Zinn explains that many blacks thought Kings’ methods were “naïve”, which made sense in regards to how the white community was treating the blacks. King however was able to convey his message to the majority of the black community, which was monumental. He conveyed to his followers the principles of civil disobedience and the importance of respecting the hate that was shown against them. By constantly doing so King was able to motivate his people by emphasizing that change was coming, for example like stated above; “we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.” His speeches were full of powerful messages and intellectual statements that were used to rally up supporters. Zinn explains that Martin Luther King acted as a catalyst in motivating blacks into standing up for their rights, however further argues that people like Malcolm X and other radical black leaders were what caused people into using violence as opposed to methods of civil disobedience.
As Calvin Candie pulls Broomhilda’s hair, gropes her face and almost smashes her with a hammer while negotiating with Dr Schultz and Django, it shows how much he simply lives and breathes the lifestyle of being a slave owner. The commanding attitude of Mr Candie makes you hate him, yet his pure nastiness makes you sick to your stomach. As he exclaims “SOLD!” upon Broomhildas sale there is a sudden sigh of relief. Candie represents the ultimate slave master, and especially one who every viewer despises. The scene, which can be seen below, exemplifies slavery in its rawest form, and depicts Mr Candie as an awful human being, which he truly is,
Django Unchained depicts slavery in a comedic, yet overly-violent manner. Slavery themed movies usually promise the violence and gore, however very rarely do they incorporate comedic elements. In a way it almost makes a fool of slavery and completely disregards what slavery was, however in another way it doesn’t. For example during the negotiations in the scene described above, Candie aggressively states toward Dr. Schultz, “So what’s it gonna be Doc?!”, regarding the sale of Broomhilda. Dr Schultz humorously asks to take his hands of the table (which Candie had previously ordered them to do) so he could show the money for Broomhilda. This shows how the movie drastically changes from violence and gore to comedy in a split second. From anger to laughter in short succession. A similar incident happened when Dr Schultz shot Candie instead of shaking his hand. The comedic exchanges between the two led to an onrushing gunfight and blood shatter. Tarantino does an excellent job of collaborating both comedic and violent elements to form a somewhat serious, yet somewhat mockery movie of slavery. In the end though, Its Django’s incredible revenge and perseverance that essentially makes the movie what it is.