By Susan Mirsky
How lucky for us all that Howard Zinn lived in Newton. As our group Newton Dialogues on Peace and War was first evolving right after the September 11 attack, Howard gave us suggestions and support. He was also the first recipient of the Newton Dialogues’ “Outstanding Citizen Award” in January 2005 at our screening of You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train. He and his wife Rosyln occasionally joined us at our Thursday evening vigils in Newton Center. He remained a continual presence and source of wisdom and support for us.
The night before he died, I described Howard Zinn to my teacher-son as a national treasure—an important man of hope and clarity in this world. He speaks straight from his heart and mind together—simply and directly, with humor and a clear sense of love for humanity—on complex issues of history and government.
As my college professor in 1964, he supported the idea of individual responsibility for the actions of our government, and was an advocate for student activism. He was and still is a voice of hope and for the belief that people (not BIG people, ordinary people) acting together, could effect change.
Despite the deep feeling of loss at his death, there is an equal feeling of energy and activism that comes from him, his memory. His spirit and determination to make things better continues to inspire more and more people that they can and should address issues of militarism and social injustice.
Originally published on Wicked Local Newton, Feb 02, 2010.