Thursday, January 28, 2010

Howard Zinn: 1922-2010, Presente!

graphic By Sergio Iniarte
(from Thank You Howard Zinn on Facebook)

Howard Zinn revolutionized the way we understand history - from the bottom up - but he did much more than that. He changed the way we see ourselves in relation to history and social change. He made it clear that we all have a role to play in history. In other words, he was not only a radical historian, he was also an activist. He taught, not just with his writing and teaching, but also by example. Howard Zinn died on Wednesday at 87 of a heart attack. Fortunately for all of us he was able to work until the very end. His last contribution to history (as far a I know) was "The People Speak" on the History Channel, a TV version of his magnificent A People's History of the United States. (1980)

Always the activist, his 1967 work, The Logic of Withdrawal, was, as Amy Goodman said this morning (1/28),
the first book on the war to call for immediate withdrawal, no conditions. A year later, he and Father Daniel Berrigan traveled to North Vietnam to receive the first three American prisoners of war released by the North Vietnamese.
She also reminded us that,
When Daniel Ellsberg needed a place to hide the Pentagon Papers before they were leaked to the press, he went to Howard and his late wife Roz.
Also on the tribute to Zinn on Democracy Now ,author and journalist Naomi Klein summarized his contribution in these words:
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.
For more of Democracy Now's tribute - which also includes Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker and Zinn' collaborator Anthony Arnove - go to

1 comment:

sanda said...

Thank you for the wonderful art with this piece. I appreciate your posting. I heard the show (on WBAI, and the coup has not yet ended, see, DemocracyNow and the tribute to Howard Zinn. There are some good articles, such as Paul Street's on Znet and Matthew Rothschild's on the Progressive, where Howard Zinn had a column. My eyes are wet. There was a great line in the article/obit in the Boston Globe, a quote from James Carroll, author and friend of both Howard and Roslyn Zinn (she died in May, 2008). In speaking about how much Howard Zinn loved people, James Carroll said, "How much we all loved him back.". Howard Zinn had friends among the regular folks, as well as the now famous activists and intellectuals of our time. My favorite book, of all books, is Howard Zinn's "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train", his autobio. It's a handbook for social change, beginning with a great introduction. He was a "mensch" (yiddish word for "real human being" but doesn't translate well into English...but all get the idea).