Letter to Grace Hoag (1968)

In this letter dated June 3, 1968, Howard Zinn replies to an inquiry from Grace Hoag asking about the “communist manipulation of demonstrations.”  Zinn defends the integrity of young people “who are too intelligent to be led astray.”

From the archives of the Hall-Hoag Collection.


Dear Mrs. Hoag:

I’m sorry I did not get to your letter earlier, but I have been out of town a good deal and the mail has been piling up. How does one respond to “Communist manipulation of the demonstrations?”, you ask. Perhaps by pointing historically to ow many useful movements of social protest in American life (union organizers, civil rights workers) have had to meet the same charges. Perhaps bu suggesting that all actions should be judge by what they are and say, since no one ever know what is manipulating what behind the scenes (who can possible prove who is manipulating the US govt, or the American Legion, or the Boy Scouts?). As for college professors leading the young astray, the young are too intelligent ot be led astray by anyone. They have minds of their own. if someone doesn’t believe this, let him debate the war with some of these young people. If anyone is leading anyone, it is the students who are leading teh professors (not astray, though!). Surely the students are acting more boldly than their so-called teachers.

Best wishes!

Howard Zinn

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