Matt Damon's Math Whiz Janitor
To Robin Williams' Headshrinker
In Good Will Hunting
About Howard Zinn's People's History
The Boston Herald
By Gayle Fee & Laura Raposa
NEW YORK - When Cambridge cutie-turned-Hollywood heavy Matt Damon was in the fifth grade, he brought author Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” to school for Columbus Day.
“My mother had read me the passages about Columbus,” Damon told the Track, “that two years after Columbus discovered America, more than 100,000 Indians were dead. And I wondered, ‘How is this guy so celebrated that we take a day off from school to bask in his greatness?’
“There was a whole other side to the story. What Columbus did, coming here, was a big achievement, but there was more to the story. And that was a great lesson to get at an early age.”
Needless to say, the 10-year-old’s history lesson was delivered at a progressive school in the “People’s Republic of Cambridge,” Damon laughed. But now he’d like the rest of America to learn what he learned at an early age from his former next-door neighbor, Boston University political science professor Zinn.
So Damon executive-produced - and, we hear, largely bankrolled - this Sunday’s The History Channel special “The People Speak,” a collaboration between Zinn and some of the biggest names in Hollywood, to put a new twist on some old history lessons.
“The film is an inspirational film about democracy,” Zinn told us. “It’s about how people - not governments - achieve social change.”
Of course, Damon and Zinn go way back.