Articles by Howard Zinn

SNCC: The Battle-Scarred Youngsters

SNCC Worker Briefing, Fall 1963 | HowardZinn.org

This year is the 60th anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Howard Zinn wrote about SNCC’s participation at the 1963 March on Washington. “…the youngest speaker on the platform, John Lewis…lashed out in anger, not only at the Dixiecrats, but at the Kennedy Administration, which had been successful up to that moment in directing the indignation of 200,000 people at everyone but itself.”

My Grades Will Not Be Instruments of War

Source: Howard Zinn Papers, Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University

In an undated letter (probably in 1966), Zinn said that he would not allow the grades he gave to play a role in helping the United States wage immoral wars. He announced that for students with a moral opposition to the war…

Beyond Voting

Beyond Elections | HowardZinn.org

By Howard Zinn • Excerpted from The Zinn Reader  The political culture of the United States is dominated by voting. Every election year is accompanied by an enormous amount of attention, with the media and the politicians joining forces to try to persuade Americans that voting for one candidate or another is the most important …

If History Is to Be Creative

If History Is to Be Creative • HowardZinn.org

We revisit Howard Zinn’s essay, “If History Is to Be Creative,” published in A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, a collection of essays from The Progressive magazine. The following excerpt is a reflection on the role and responsibility of the engaged historian, and is an inspiration for us all to continue the fight for justice. Zinn …

The Spirit of Rebellion

By Howard Zinn
Writing a column to appear in the July 4, 1975, issue of the Boston Globe, I wanted to break away from the traditional celebrations of Independence Day, in which the spirit of that document, with its call for rebellion and revolution, was most often missing. The column appeared with the title “The Brooklyn Bridge and the Spirit of the Fourth.”

Strike at Boston University

[Boston University President John Silber’s] employees had difficulty getting raises in their wages or their benefits. In self-defense, they organized into unions: the faculty, the secretaries and staff, the librarians. And in 1979, with various grievances not met, all these groups, at different times, went out on strike. For the faculty, the provocation was the university reneging on a contract at first agreed to by its negotiating committee.

When Respectability Was No Longer Respectable, and Virtue Required Acting Out, Not Leaning In

The Nation • August 6, 1960 and republished March 23, 2015
One afternoon some weeks ago, with the dogwood on the Spelman College campus newly bloomed and the grass close-cropped and fragrant, an attractive, tawny-skinned girl crossed the lawn to her dormitory to put a notice on the bulletin board. It read: Young Ladies Who Can Picket Please Sign Below.

The notice revealed, in its own quaint language, that within the dramatic revolt of Negro college students in the South today another phenomenon has been developing. This is the upsurge of the young, educated Negro woman against the generations-old advice of her elders: be nice, be well-mannered and ladylike, don’t speak loudly, and don’t get into trouble. On the campus of the nation’s leading college for Negro young women—pious, sedate, encrusted with the traditions of gentility and moderation—these exhortations, for the first time, are being firmly rejected.

Remembering a War

This year, as the Pentagon prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we revisit this essay by Howard Zinn written in 1998, the 30th anniversary year of when he traveled with the Reverend Daniel Berrigan to Hanoi to receive prisoners released by the North Vietnamese. In talking about the terrible effects of …

On the Road to Voting Rights: Freedom Day in Selma, 1963

Freedom Day, Selma, 1963 | HowardZinn.org

In the 1960s, Howard Zinn, along with Ella Baker, served as advisers to SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. On this 50th anniversary year of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches and the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, we revisit Zinn’s first-hand account from Selma’s Freedom Day in 1963. “The idea was to bring hundreds of people to register to vote, hoping that their numbers would decrease fear. And there was much to fear,” Zinn writes.

The following excerpt is from Chapter 5 of Zinn’s autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train and is followed by related resources about Selma’s voting rights campaign, Freedom Day, and SNCC.