Goodbye Howard Zinn

Goodbye Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and the author of the seminal A People’s History of the United States, died today at the age of 87 of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California. He was in a swimming pool doing laps and was spotted immediately by lifeguards but died instantly.

Zinn’s brand of history put common citizens at the center of the story and inspired generations of young activists and academics to remember that change is possible. As he wrote in his autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994), “From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.”

Watch these videos to get a sense of what we’ve lost.


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1 thought on “Goodbye Howard Zinn

  1. DE Teodoru

    Zinn was never fair but he always tried. Good by Howard, you lovable Sisyphus. I read everyone of your books, more out of respect than anything else and always got something from them—you made me question where I stood and that is ALWAYS good. I will miss you for in my hardest moments of anti-Communist rage you always brought me back to remembering that they are humans too– we all are humans and MUST find an answer. I pray to God that He surprise you and give you an Eternity of people like you– who care, who feel and who only want to be loved. Ego is a forgivable sin, especially if you are a professing professor who always has a captive audience. No, you were NOT fair but you were very kind; and that more than makes up for it. God bless your soul. I hope you left us a stand-in for we need one soooo desperately. Above all, you were a good Jew even though you tried not to be. Let all recall your Talmudic patience!

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