A People’s History – Drawing the Color Line and beyond…

Thanks to Jill and Jenners for hosting this group read.  This is my third reading of A People’s History.  I plan on posting every few weeks.  If this book inspires you please read the books in Zinn’s bibliography.  I will add links to other resources.

When I first read this book I became angry.  I was also disappointed that the teachers I had trusted in high school and college had not been curious enough to dig deep into the history of the United States.  Later, when I returned to school, things had changed.

Now I know this had to do with our  educational system, with textbook publishers, with class, race and political power.  I believe we are undergoing a historic change,  and hope that more people will be curious enough to learn about our history as a country and as a people, but there are indications of a back-lash.  Witness the recent book removal  from Tuscon, Arizona, classrooms.

If this book makes you angry or frustrated or discouraged, please keep reading.  Our posts and discussions are invaluable.

Chapter 2: Drawing the Color Line.  A discussion of the beginning of the African Slave trade in North America and the beginnings of “racism” in the United States.

Some good books:

Rough Crossing – Simon Schama
Many Thousands Gone – Ira Berlin
Narrative of the The Life of Fredrick Douglas
 The Classic Slave’s Narrative – Charles Davis and Henry Louis Gates
Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl – Harriet Jacobs

Racism from modern white (leftist) perspective:

Race Traitor – Noel Ingatiev
The Wages of Whiteness – David R. Roediger
White Like Me – Tim Wise

Tim Wise is one of the best speakers on racism I have had the privilege to see in person.   I find his web site educational and inspirational.

Chapter 3: Persons of a Mean and Vile Condition.  Bacon’s Rebellion ( did you learn about this in high school?) and the conditions of the poor in the colonies.  For me this period marks the beginnings of class divisions in the Colonies.

I’ve read several of Zinn’s chapter 3 references including:

America at 1750: A Social Portrait by Richard Hofstader
Red, White and Black: The Peoples of Early North  America by Gary B. Nash

Here is a link to an online addition of A People’s History of the United States.  And an image passed on by a Facebook friend this week.


Filed under Group Read, History, United States

5 responses to “A People’s History – Drawing the Color Line and beyond…

  1. Howard Zinn is awesome! I haven’t read the whole book, but I’ve read bits and pieces for classes over the years and loved every bit of it. He’s able to focus on how historical events affected real people, rather than the whitewashed glorified textbook legends that we tend to propagate.

  2. When I was getting ready for this readalong, I read a lot of the reviews on Amazon and there were so many angry people who just HATE what Zinn has to say, which made me all the more determined to read the book and write about it. Thank you, again, for all the extras you’ve researched and posted for getting more information about the topics covered in the book.

  3. Thanks for another great reading list! And I just love that quote by Zinn.

  4. Have you read Lies My Teacher Told Me? I forget the author, but it’s an excellent book about textbooks and the way the misrepresent history and often outright lie about it. While I don’t think this issue is anywhere near the problem it used to be, certainly not in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live and teach, it’s still an important issue. Glad to see Mr. Zinn still getting the attention he should.

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