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.
I remember sitting in with him at the administration building for black studies; occupying the BU chapel in support of the sanctuary movement for draftees; picketing in the freezing cold against the war and mobilizing on the Boston Commons; and of course, being rapt by his inspiration in his civil liberties course and every other time he spoke.
His natural humility combined with his fervor for peace and human rights helped me believe that we could be better people and build a better world. He was also the advocate and advisor for the first student-run course at BU—-“A Radical Critique of the American Political Economy,” which I helped set up and “teach.” This was long before he published A People’s History but we—-Howard’s students—-taught a people’s history in this course. Its first semester however was cut short by the massive student strikes that shut down campuses across the U.S. after the murders of students at Jackson and Kent States.
I was so happy to be with Howard several times in more recent years. His humanity, humor, and passion have helped to keep me inspired and active for more than 46 years. I just love him!
Sometime in the 1990s the Thomas Merton Center, Pittsburgh’s hub for peace and social justice activities, awarded Howard the annual “Thomas Merton Award.” At the time I was in a feminist activist singing group, Cross Current. We performed at that dinner readings from “The People’s History” with appropriate songs by Buffy Saint Marie, Woody Guthrie, myself, and others.
Ginny moved from Boston to New York City then to Pittsburgh in 1977. “Here I’ve been a steelworker, underground coal miner, and machinist. The collapse of industry finally has driven me to the dogs. . . I’m a dog groomer, and I love it.”
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.