2010 Oklahoma Speaks cast

Oklahoma Speaks is a program inspired by the late historian Howard Zinn’s production The People Speak, which aired on the History Channel in early 2010 and featured readings from historic documents written by people active in grassroots movements throughout U.S. history.  These movements include, among others, the abolition movement, the labor movement, the women’s suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement.  The voices of both illustrate the extraordinary human capacity for creating positive social change.
Oklahoma Speaks accomplishes this same goal on a local level.  It features a collection of archival texts written by Oklahoma’s public leaders, grassroots activists, writers, scholars, and everyday people who have worked and are working for the good of the state and its citizens.  Each voice reveals aspects of state history and culture in Oklahoma missing from the state’s public memory.  Each voice reminds us that the struggle for justice is central to Oklahoma’s identity.  Each of these voices tells us about who we are and where we come from, and encourages us from across the years to keep the struggle going for the good of our state and our people.
The music that accompanies these readings highlights the issues, experiences, and themes that emerge from the readings and that have long been central to social justice movements and working class culture.
Oklahoma Speaks 2
The production is in its second year, and this year’s readings and songs will be all new. This year’s readings and songs will explore the diversity of Oklahoma’s working class history in celebration of the relationship between labor and civil rights – and in protest of the ongoing attempts to repeal affirmative action in the state. The readings were selected and arranged by Rachel Jackson, with the guidance of the Oklahoma Laborfest Planning Committee, and will be read by local labor, civil rights, and cultural leaders.  The music was selected and arranged by Mary Catherine Reynolds and Louise Goldberg.  Other musical guests this year include Beatrice Cole and Peggy Johnson.

Rachel Jackson reading 'The Grapes of Wrath'

Red Dirt Rangers at Laborfest 2010