Gail Lelyveld

Our Favorite Teacher Series

Howard Zinn taught at Spelman College and Boston University where he had an extraordinary influence on his students’ understanding of history and their role in the world. The “Howard Zinn: Our Favorite Teacher” series highlights Zinn’s lasting impact as a professor.


Gail Lelyveld’s Reflections

This is going to be a tribute to Howie, Roz, and my Dad who died 2 weeks ago today [August 18]. I had already planned to take Howard’s first semester class on Civil Liberties. My Dad had heard him talk about Vietnam, and tells me, “You have to take this guy’s class, he is wonderful.” Well, one must do what one’s father says, right?

Howard came to talk at my high school, and he stopped in my Dad’s store to meet him. I went on several demonstrations with Howard and Roz; during these events I met several interesting people.

Finally, Howie was a reference for me when I applied for a receptionist job at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. I worked for them for 2.5 years until I was caught in an economic downturn. I still do volunteer work and lobby with them.

About four months before he died, he asked me to do some research for him at the National Archives. I think of Roz and Howard as good friends. I miss them every day. I miss Dad and his good advice.


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Howard Zinn taught at Spelman College and Boston University where he had an extraordinary influence on his students’ understanding of history and their role in the world. This series highlights Zinn’s lasting impact as a professor. Read more stories and submit your own.