Howard Zinn's remarkable book, A People's History of the United States tells the underside of American history, the stories of everyday people who were on the losing side of America's prosperity and expansion, from the indigenous people and slaves to the conquered people, conscriptees and refugees. People who demanded, but did not receive, justice.
A companion to this book is this CD, "Readings from Voices of a People's History of the United States" — a collection of famous speeches from people who held America to the standard it set, and found it wanting. These are inspiring and infuriating, and are expertly read by a cast of talented voice-actors including Danny Glover ("The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro — Frederick Douglass"); Paul Robeson, Jr. ("Ballad of Roosevelt — Langston Hughes"); Wallace Shawn ("Why We Fight — Vito Russo"); Marisa Tomei ("It's Time the Antiwar Choir Started Singing — Cindy Sheehan"); John Sayles ("Comments on the Moro Massacre — Mark Twain") and many others.
These are the words of people who refused to accept injustice as inevitable, who demanded better. Someone once said, "All countries fail to live up to their ideals; the ideals that America fails to live up to are nobler than most." I agree with that sentiment. The liberty and justice guaranteed by America's foundational documents are a high standard to meet, and if the country is to live up to it, it must be held to account by those who suffer as a result of its failures.