Activism

A People’s History Inspires Students’ Political Activism

L.A. students of color in lime green shirt In an experiment with nearly 700 students from nine Chicago-area schools, Matthew Nelsen (a PhD candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University) gave out readings on the abolitionist movement, the National Farmworkers Association, and the Chinese Exclusion Act. Half of the readings were from the corporate textbook The American Pageant and the other half from A People’s History of the United States. Afterwards, when Nelsen asked students to report on their willingness to participate in political activities (voting, campaigning, or demonstrations), Black and Latino youth reported a greater willingness to participate when they read passages from A People’s History.

Sam Lovejoy and ‘No Nukes’ Activism

In September 1974, Sam Lovejoy went on trial for "malicious destruction" of a weather tower that had been erected to test wind direction at the site for the planned construction of a nuclear power plant. Howard Zinn testified in Lovejoy's case as an expert on civil disobedience (read Lovejoy's letter to Zinn). The following is a summary of these events, including a film clip from Lovejoy's Nuclear War, featuring an interview with Howard Zinn on civil disobedience.

Against Discouragement

Howard Zinn Spelman Commencement 2005 | HowardZinn.org

originalzinnIn 1963, Howard Zinn was fired from Spelman College, where he was chair of the History Department, because of his support for students’ civil rights activism. In 2005, he was invited back by President Beverly Daniel Tatum to give the commencement address.

Freedom Day in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Chapter 6 in Zinn's biography You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train • Beacon Press • Sept. 1994; Sept. 2002 Mrs. [Fannie Lou] Hamer told me that a few months earlier she and five other movement people had been returning to Greenwood from a meeting in South Carolina. The bus stopped briefly in Winona, Mississippi, and some of them went into the “white” waiting room. They were all arrested, taken to jail, separated from one another. Annelle Ponder, a graduate of Clark College in Atlanta (her younger sister was a student of mine at Spelman), was beaten to the point where her face was so swollen she could barely speak. Mrs. Hamer was beaten with blackjacks all over her body.
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