Excerpts

“The Problem Is Civil Obedience”: Chapter 20 from Voices of a People’s History

B&W photo of street scene, people arrested

In November 1970, after my arrest along with others who had engaged in a Boston protest at an army base to block soldiers from being sent to Vietnam, I flew to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to take part in a debate with the philosopher Charles Frankel on civil disobedience. I was supposed to appear …

Two Rebel Historians: Thucydides, Howard Zinn and Telling Truth for Social Good

Abraham A. Callahan has shared his paper “Two Rebel Historians: Thucydides, Howard Zinn and Telling Truth for Social Good ” with HowardZinn.org. Written as an honors thesis in the Department of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, Callahan compares the history writing of Thucydides and Howard Zinn. Callahan argues, In order for historians …

Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary: Excerpts

Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary | HowardZinn.org

The University of Georgia Press has published Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary: Sit-Ins, Civil Rights, and Black Women’s Student Activism by Robert Cohen with a foreword by Alice Walker. The book includes diary entries from Howard Zinn’s time teaching at Spelman College (1956-1963). Historian Robert Cohen offers a substantial overview of Zinn’s role at Spelman and other archival documents.

Insisting on the Rights of Everyone Everywhere

Insisting on the Rights of Everyone (excerpt) | HowardZinn.org

By Howard Zinn, excerpted from The Zinn Reader I was one of the speakers at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston (though named after an early slave trader, it was the scene of many meetings of anti-slavery groups before the Civil War) in 1991, when the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts organized a celebration of the …

When Zinn and Chomsky Met

Today (December 7) is the birthday of Howard Zinn’s longtime friend Noam Chomsky. In celebration, we share this interview with David Barsamian (DB) of Alternative Radio about how they met. Excerpted from The Future of History, Zinn discusses Chomsky’s popularity, “His message has been so powerful and so outrageously true and so backed up by …

Zinn Testifies at the Trial of CIA Protesters

CIA protesters with banner, By Charles Carroll, April 1987 | HowardZinn.org

On Nov. 25, 1986, 60 people—including Amy Carter and Abbie Hoffman—were arraigned on charges of disorderly conduct stemming from a sit-in to block CIA campus recruiting at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, an act of protest of the CIA’s role in Central America. Howard Zinn testified as an expert on civil disobedience.  Lawyers Tom Lesser and Leonard Weinglass …

Staughton Lynd — “Long Distance Runner for Justice”

Staughton Lynd speaks with Freedom School teachers in Ohio. Photo: Herbert Randall. | HowardZinn.org

Nov. 22 marks the birthday of Staughton Lynd, longtime friend of Howard Zinn. They both taught at Spelman College and can be described as long-distance runners for justice.
“I have admired [Lynd] enormously ever since I first met him,” Zinn wrote shortly before his death, because he is an “exemplar of strength and gentleness in the quest for a better world.” Read more about Lynd in this tribute by Andy Piascik.

Failure to Quit

Failure to Quit | HowardZinn.org

By Howard Zinn
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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I can understand pessimism, but I don’t believe in it. It’s not simply a matter of faith, but of historical evidence. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give hope, because for hope we don’t need certainty, only possibility.

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 …