Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

I didn’t know “A People’s History of the United States” was a “leftist alternative to mainstream texts.”  I loved it for recounting the history I didn’t learn in the classroom.  I also didn’t know that Howard Zinn was a professor at Spelman but was fired.

If you haven’t read “A People’s History,” you should.  And think about a man born in the 1920’s who recognized there was another story to tell.

(My mother’s review of the book:  “Boy!  White people sure do a lot of bad things!”)

5 thoughts on “Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

  1. I always said this will be the text I home-school my children from. R.I.P. Zinn. And thanks for keeping me abreast of important events like this.

  2. I like Naomi Klein’s response to that Times (actually Associated Press) obit, when Amy Goodman asked her about it:

    AMY GOODMAN: The Times has something like 1,200 obits already prepared for people. They didn’t have one prepared for Howard Zinn. And this Associated Press obit very quickly went to a quote of Arthur Schlesinger, the historian, who once said, “I know”—he’s talking about Howard Zinn—“I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary. And I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.” Naomi Klein, your response?

    NAOMI KLEIN: I don’t think that would have bothered Howard Zinn at all. He never was surprised when power protected itself. And he really was a people’s historian, so he didn’t look to the elites for validation.

    I’m just so happy that Anthony and the incredible team from [the History Channel’s] The People Speak gave Howard this incredible gift at the end of his life. I was at Lincoln Center at the premiere of People Speak and was there when just the mention of Howard’s name led thousands of people to leap to their feet and give him the standing ovation that he deserved. So I don’t think he needed the New York Times. I don’t think he needed the official historians. He was everybody’s favorite teacher, the teacher that changed your life, but he was that for millions and millions of people. And so, you know, that’s what happened. We just lost our favorite teacher.

    But the thing about Howard is that the history that he taught was not just about losing the official illusions about nationalism, about the heroic figures. It was about telling people to believe in themselves and their power to change the world. So, like any wonderful teacher, he left all of these lessons behind. And I think we should all just resolve to be a little bit more like Howard today.

  3. The original obit was an AP syndication obit. NYtimes had a footnote saying they would update it with their in-house obit; they did. I’m sure you can find the original AP obit as it was widely used.

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