In early January of 2010, the Zinn Education Project joined with HarperCollins, publisher of Howard Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States, to sponsor an “Ask Howard” online radio interview, and invited teachers from around the country to participate. Sixty teachers and students submitted written questions to Professor Zinn. The Jan. 19 interview was conducted by Rethinking Schools Curriculum Editor Bill Bigelow. Below is the full audio recording, followed by excerpts from that interview, edited for length and clarity.
There are things that happen in the world that are bad, and you want to do something about them. You have a just cause. But our culture is so war prone that we immediately jump from, “This is a good cause” to “This deserves a war.” You need to be very, very comfortable in making that jump.
Speech give by Howard Zinn in Madison, Wisconsin, May 2, 2009
Matt Rothschild: For all his fame he’s more humble, or as I told him once, he fakes it better than anyone I know. So, let’s hear it for Howard Zinn.…
On that 50th year after the execution, the New York Times reported that: "Plans by Mayor Beame to proclaim next Tuesday "Sacco and Vanzetti Day’ have been canceled in an effort to avoid controversy, a City Hall spokesman said yesterday." There must be good reason why a case 50-years-old, now over 75-years-old, arouses such emotion. I suggest that it is because to talk about Sacco and Vanzetti inevitably brings up matters that trouble us today: our system of justice, the relationship between war fever and civil liberties, and most troubling of all, the ideas of anarchism: the obliteration of national boundaries and therefore of war, the elimination of poverty, and the creation of a full democracy.
Do you have any advice for Obama?
"Yes. Speak boldly to the American people, the American people want to get out of Iraq. Speak boldly and say, 'I'm going to withdraw from Iraq as fast as ships and planes can carry them,' and I think that Obama will have a much better chance of winning the election because he will be speaking to the hearts of the American people, who really are sick of the war."
Topic: Race in America
HOWARD ZINN: There are more openings in media and business and the professions for a certain number of Black people. But I speak about 10 or 20 percent. For the vast majority of Black people, their lives are still constricted by poverty and racism. The civil rights movement accomplished a good deal by beginning to remove some of the important social barriers. What it did not remove was the barrier of class, the barrier of economic injustice. Martin Luther King recognized this. That’s why toward the end of his life he began working for economic rights for Black people.
We might wonder why no Democratic Party contender for the presidency has invoked the memory of the New Deal and its unprecedented series of laws aimed at helping people in need. The New Deal was tentative, cautious, bold enough to shake the pillars of the system but not to replace them. It created many jobs but left 9 million unemployed. It built public housing but not nearly enough. It helped large commercial farmers but not tenant farmers. Excluded from its programs were the poorest of the poor, especially blacks. As farm laborers, migrants or domestic workers, they didn’t qualify for unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, Social Security or farm subsidies. Still, in today’s climate of endless war and uncontrolled greed, drawing upon the heritage of the 1930s would be a huge step forward.
This interview was conducted at at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and included in the book, Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics.
Howard Zinn has been a pivotal figure in the American Left for decades. As an activist and writer, he has influenced generations of leftists and helped encourage a strong commitment to direct democracy, anti-racism, and grassroots action. We asked Zinn about the current changes in the political environment, his theoretical commitments, and some of the challenges faced by radical intellectuals
Recorded at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico on September 18, 2002
This video is from the event awarding the Prize for Cultural Freedom to Arundhati Roy. Zinn interviews Roy about growing up, her writing, class, and politics.…