Interviews With Howard Zinn

A Few Words with Howard Zinn

Interviewed by Michael Pozo • Published in St. John’s University Humanities Review • March 2003
MP: How is your approach to History conducive for positive social change?

HZ: I hope it gives people the History of previous social movements to show how they can bring about change, to show that it is possible, to give people faith that if they participate, if they do even small actions, that might have an effect, if not today, tomorrow or next year.

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A People’s History of the United States, 1,000,000 Copies and Counting

Democracy Now! • February 25, 2003
Who would have thought a history book could become a best-seller? Who would have thought that a history book could not only become a best seller, but could become ever more popular over the years? Who would have thought a little while ago, Professor Howard Zinn would have sold the millionth copy of his famous book, A People’s History of the United States?

Well that’s what happened, and on Sunday night in New York City, a group of renowned authors, actresses and editors gathered to pay homage to the book that changed history.

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Zinn on Iraq and Other Pressing Matters

Interview by Bill Moyers • Published at PBS’ NOW With Bill Moyers • January 10, 2003
“Oh, sure. We were attacked, but then the question is, who attacked us? If we could locate the people who attacked us and get them, grab them, find them. Okay, that’s self-defense. But if we are attacked and we don’t know who attacked us, and we just select a country from which we think the attackers may have sprung, and then just bomb that country, that is not defense. That is indiscriminate violence.”

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Over 600 Gather for the Funeral of Legendary Anti-War Activist Philip Berrigan

Democracy Now! • December 10, 2002
“It may have been the largest gathering of ex-cons in the country. Over 600 people packed into the St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Baltimore on Monday. It would have made the legendary anti-war and anti-nuclear activist Philip Berrigan proud. It was at his funeral. Today we will hear from historian Howard Zinn and Brendan Walsh of Baltimore Catholic speaking about Philip Berrigan.”

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Zinn on Growing Up, Objectivity, Bombing, Media, Genocide, and Propaganda

Interview by David Barsamian • Published by ZCommunications • November 1, 2002
I want to know something about your roots, growing up in the projects on the lower east side.

I grew up in the slums of Brooklyn, a working class family. My parents were European immigrants, factory workers in New York. They met as factory workers. They were Jewish immigrants. My father came from Austria, my mother from Asiatic Russia, Siberia. I remember moving all the time. We were always one step ahead of the landlord. And changing schools all the time. My father struggled, went from job to job, he was unemployed and under WPA. I wanted to get out of the house all the time. Where we lived was never a nice place to be. So I was in the streets a lot. I understand what it’s like for kids to live in and prefer the streets. That’s how I grew up.

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Interview with Howard Zinn

Interview by Amir Butler • Published at A True Word • October 28, 2002
Amir Butler talks to Professor Zinn about imperialism and the “War on Terror.”

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Dissent In Pursuit Of Equality, Life, Liberty And Happiness

Interview by Sharon Basco • Published at Tompaine.com • July 3, 2002
“When you say the country was founded by people who believed in dissent, well, they believed in their own right to dissent in the relationship with England. But it happens very often that people who believe in their own right to dissent, when they gain power they don’t really accept the idea that other people have the right to dissent. And so, for instance, when the Founding Fathers, who very powerfully defended their right to dissent against the British when they expelled the British, and then they were faced with dissenters, like the former rebels of Shay’s Rebellion in 1786, they sent an army to put them down.”

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The People’s Historian: Howard Zinn

Democracy Now! • June 21, 2002
More recently, he has been an outspoken critic of the so-called war on terrorism. This spring he published Terrorism and War, a book exploring the loss of civil liberties during war and the history of American resistance to wars from World War I to the war in Afghanistan.

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The Camden 28 Retrospective: Zinn Recounts His Testimony

Remembering Howard Zinn from Anthony Giacchino on Vimeo. In this clip, Zinn recounts his role as an expert on civil disobedience in the trial of the Camden 28, as well other Vietnam war protesters. The civil disobedience by… Read More

Manning Marable, Howard Zinn and Grace Paley Speak Out Against the March to War

Democracy Now! • September 13, 2001
“Why can’t we take our cue from the rescue workers, from the compassion shown by the medical teams, the doctors and nurses and medical students, the firemen and policemen, whose thought—when they are taking care of these people and trying to find people and help them and cure them, their thought is not of retaliation. No, their thought is of human compassion and how to end the suffering.”

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Radical History: A Conversation with Howard Zinn

Interviewed by Harry Kreisler • Conversations with History • April 20, 2001

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Robert Birnbaum Talks with the Author of A People’s History of the United States

Interview by Robert Birnbau • Published at IdentityTheory.com • January 10, 2001
“I talk to audiences in Oklahoma and Texas and here and there and mostly to audiences of people who don’t really know my work. I certainly don’t expect them to be sympathetic to my ideas. When I express my ideas — and they are radical ideas — except that I don’t start off by saying, ‘I’m now going to tell you radical ideas.’ Or, ‘I’m now going to expound ideas of socialism or attack capitalism. Or, ‘This is going to be a hate imperialism talk.’ None of that. People respond to common sense ideas about foreign policy and domestic policy. It encourages me about the potential in this country, despite who is running it.”

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The Electoral College and Election 2000: A Historical Perspective from Howard Zinn

Democracy Now! • December 8, 2000
“I mean, what’s astonishing, or maybe not so astonishing, is here over 200 years later, we are still operating with an undemocratic system of electing the president of the United States, a system which not only was flawed from the beginning by the requirements of the founding fathers, but had become more and more flawed as the election process has become dominated by two major parties, which monopolize the political arena, and dominated more and more by the fact that money decides who can reach the American people.”

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American History Review of the 20th Century: Manning Marable and Howard Zinn

Democracy Now! • December 27, 1999
“But what the history of this country shows, and especially in this century, is that democracy comes alive when people who see that the formal structure of government doesn’t help them. The formal structure of government does not change the 12-hour day, doesn’t change the conditions of work, doesn’t change the power of the corporations over working people. When people see that that formal structure doesn’t work, then they organize. They go out on strike. They demonstrate.”

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A People’s History of the United States

What are the political implications of cyberspace? What role is the United States playing in Russia’s current crises? After its rise and fall, is the labor movement on the rise once again? What are the origins of corporate… Read More

Zinn and the Art of Liberal Persuasion

Published in Perspective • March 1999
“My aim is to kind of provoke people to get active, people who’ve got some awareness of what’s going on in the world, who have enough awareness to come to one of my talks. They have a little bit of awareness, and my hope is to increase that awareness, and turn it into action.… I use history to expose information which has been concealed, and which is troubling. History has a very—you might say gloomy—message when you look at what has happened in history. And then on the other hand to counter that with the stories of social movements that have done very inspiring and marvelous things.”

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‘History as a Political Act’

Interview by Raymond Lotta • Published in Revolutionary Worker • December 20, 1998
“Beneath the surface of youthful ‘ambition’—’need to graduate,” ‘need to make a career’—beneath that surface, I believe there’s always among young people a hunger to do something worthwhile and important. And if you present young people something that is happening, that touches themhellip; I find that they respond.”

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Mergers, Lying Presidents, Activism and Noam Chomsky

Democracy Now! • December 7, 1998
Last week’s announcement of the proposed merger of two oil giants, Exxon and Mobil, would create not only the largest oil company in the world, but also the world’s single largest corporation. We speak with historian Howard Zinn for the historical context of the merger, as well as his philosophy on life and activism.

HOWARD ZINN: “It’s just part of a long-term development in American history of the increasing power of corporations.”

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Historian Zinn Addresses Nation’s Censored Reports

Today we play for you a very powerful speech Howard Zinn gave just a few weeks ago at the Project Censored Awards in New York City, awards given to journalists who wrote stories censored or un-covered by the… Read More

Outside the Classroom

Interview with David Barsamian, originally published in The Progressive, July 1997. Excerpted from The Historic Unfulfilled Promise. Q: Do you miss teaching? Zinn: I miss the classroom and the encounter with students. But I’m not completely divorced from… Read More