Howard Zinn and the bu exposure

Howard Zinn and BU Exposure

bu exposure album: Click to see more photos and primary documents.


Howard Zinn was the faculty adviser for the Boston University (BU) student newspaper, bu exposure.

In 1977-78, the administration of John Silber demanded that Zinn agree to review the contents of the paper before it was published and act as a censor. Zinn refused. The newspaper was then banned from campus. Given that BU’s campus is in the middle of a city, it was impossible for the BU administration to stop distribution of the paper. However, all student governments were prohibited from providing funds, the journalism department banned internships, student organizations could not reserve rooms for the paper, the paper was prohibited from registering as a student organization, and no fundraising events could be held on campus.

This screen print (right) features a story from the bu exposure about censorship on campus. After that issue came out, the student government voted to fund the newspaper, in violation of the banning order. The administration vetoed that allocation, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts filed a First Amendment lawsuit charging censorship.

Zinn stood behind the paper, supported the lawsuit, and helped students who worked on the paper in defiance of the administration’s dictates. The lawsuit was eventually settled. The paper continued to publish for a number years, but ultimately could not survive the banning order.

Our thanks to Stephen M. Kohn, one of the founders of the paper, and David Colapinto, a key staff member, for providing the photos and captions. The screen print is by Leslie Rose with Dennis O’Neil of the Handprint Workshop, Alexandria, Virginia. Kohn and Colapinto work at the National Whistleblower Center, where Howard Zinn served on the board.

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