Type of Content: Excerpts

Failure to Quit | HowardZinn.org

Failure to Quit

By Howard Zinn. Z Magazine, 1990; excerpt from Failure to Quit.
This essay, written for Z Magazine in 1990, and reprinted in my book Failure to Quit, was inspired (if you are willing to call this an inspired piece) by my students of the Eighties. I was teaching a spring and fall lec­ture course with four hundred students in each course (and yet with lots of discussion). I looked hard, listened closely, but did not find the apathy, the conservatism, the disregard for the plight of others, that everybody (right and left) was reporting about "the me generation."
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If History Is to Be Creative • HowardZinn.org

If History Is to Be Creative

By Howard Zinn. Excerpted from A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.
We revisit Howard Zinn's essay, "If History Is to Be Creative," 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 writes, "If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, and occasionally to win. I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past's fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare."
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Revolt Is Always an Inch Below the Surface

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from A People’s History of the United States.
Howard Zinn writes about the legacy of Black resistance in the 20th century, and the rise of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s and 70s. Although the government attempted to quell social unrest through civil rights legislation and to bring Black people into the political fold, Zinn writes, “It did not work. The Blacks could not be easily brought into ‘the democratic coalition’ when bombs kept exploding in churches, when new ‘civil rights’ laws did not change the root condition of Black people.”
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Obedience, Activism, and Social Change

Howard Zinn interviewed by David Barsamian. Excerpt. The Progressive, July 1997. The Historic Unfulfilled Promise.
As we approach a new calendar year, we revisit Howard Zinn's warmth, humor, and optimism in this interview with David Barsamian from July 1997. Zinn discusses being considered non-scholarly in the academic world ("...if you write stuff that an ordinary person can read, you’re suspect"). Originally published in The Progressive, the following is excerpted from The Historic Unfulfilled Promise.
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Value of Skepticism and Breaking Down Barriers with Students

Howard Zinn interviewed by David Barsamian. Excerpt excerpt from Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics.
As the school year gets underway, we share this excerpt from Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics on democratic education, the value of skepticism, and building trust with students.
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A Veteran Against War

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.
August 6 and 9 mark the anniversary of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. In the following excerpt from You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Howard Zinn, a WWII bombardier, recalls, “Hiroshima and Royan were crucial in my gradual rethinking of what I had once accepted without question—the absolute morality of the war against fascism.”
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The Spirit of Rebellion

By Howard Zinn, from The Zinn Reader
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.”
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Staff, Librarian and Faculty Strikes at Boston University

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train. [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.
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Remembering a War

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from The Zinn Reader.
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.
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Freedom Day, Selma, 1963 | HowardZinn.org

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

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train
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.
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