Civil Disobedience

“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 …

Investigation of a Flame (Film)

B&W photo of Catonsville 9

 On May 17, 1968 nine Vietnam War protesters, including a nurse, an artist and three priests, walked into a Catonsville, Maryland draft board office, grabbed hundreds of selective service records and incinerated them with homemade napalm. The 45-minute documentary film, Investigation of a Flame, offers an intimate look at this unlikely, disparate band of …

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 …

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.

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). Lovejoy also received …

Sam Lovejoy, Anti-Nukes Activist, Requests Howard Zinn to Testify | 1974

Sam Lovejoy, Anti-Nukes Activist, Requests Howard Zinn to Testify | HowardZinn.org
Source: Howard Zinn Papers, housed at New York University’s Tamiment Library

In 1974, anti-nukes activist Sam Lovejoy wrote to Howard Zinn, asking Zinn to testify at his upcoming September 17 trial as an expert on civil disobedience. Earlier that year in February, Lovejoy toppled a weather tower that was the first stage of a proposed nuclear power plant.

Lovejoy’s Nuclear War: Interview with Howard Zinn

Lovejoy’s Nuclear War: Interview with Howard Zinn

Film Clip: Lovejoy’s Nuclear War by Green Mountain Post Films Includes interviews with community members and their thoughts about Sam Lovejoy’s action of toppling the nuclear power plant’s weather tower, Lovejoy about his trial strategy, Dr. John Gofman on why he is testifying at Lovejoy’s trial and the importance of the nuclear power issue, and …

Revolt Is Always an Inch Below the Surface

In the following excerpt from Chapter 17, “Or Does It Explode?” of 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 …

The Spirit of Rebellion

By Howard Zinn
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.”