aHope inspires outspoken social change

November 4, 2010

by Sherelle Black, Staff Reporter

What was learned in history class was the political incorrectness of violence, but through a documentary, students were able to see how violence brought about social change. 

In its first quarter as an official campus organization, the Association of Happiness of People on the Earth held its first campus-wide event last Thursday with the viewing of “People Speak,” a documentary based on Howard Zinn’s novel, “A People’s History of the United States.”

aHope president Joshua Wilson said the documentary was chosen because it promotes aHope’s mission of encouraging global happiness by advocating freedom, solidarity and democracy. 

The film showed a different perspective of how the nation evolved over time by expressing the viewpoints of women, African-Americans, immigrants and other minorities.

 “What makes this documentary unique is how it encapsulates social change through a different viewpoint that isn’t taught inside the classroom,” Wilson, a sophomore industrial engineering major, said.

“People Speak” contained dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of common Americans who spoke up for social change throughout the history of the U.S.

Poetry readings of works by Alice Walker and Langston Hughes and fragments of Sojourner Truth’s speeches were brought back to life by actors Matt Damon, Danny Glover, Benjamin Bratt, Morgan Freeman, Jasmine Guy and Kerry Washington.

John Legend, Allison Moorer and Bob Dylan also performed musical pieces of artists who were involved in social change. 

Caroline Smalling, a freshman English major, said she was moved by the celebrities’ readings and performances. 

“The actors, especially Morgan Freeman, who has the voice of God, really engaged and convinced me that they were the people they were quoting,” she said.

Jade Casteel, aHope’s vice president, said she enjoyed the documentary because it allowed her to see the real struggle of how our nation became the way it is now.

“In history, you learn about how there were non-violent protests and how the government responded back with violence, but you never got to see how violent they actually were,” Casteel, a sophomore basic engineering major, said. “This documentary shows and tells you in detail of the violence that our forefathers had to endure.”

In the end, Casteel said she took away a lesson that she could apply to her own life to help out her own community.

“The film shows how they started off in their community and eventually nationalized their issues, and that inspired me to continue working to make my community and campus better,” she said.

Along with endorsing social change, aHope members plan on showing support to the universities in Louisiana suffering from budget cuts.

aHope plans on having a candlelight vigil for education at 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Lady of the Mist.

Wilson said he wanted to make sure to support the other universities because Tech will soon be facing the same problems.

He said, “We need to remember that it isn’t the people who sit down and watch things happen, it’s those who actually get up and stand for what they believe in.”

E-mail comments to scb035@latech.edu.