In the South

Howard Zinn Remembers Whitney Young Jr.

 In this clip, Howard Zinn recalls working with Whitney Young Jr., (July 31, 1921 – March 11, 1971) civil rights leader and head of the National Urban League, on desegregation efforts in the South. “You can learn… Read More

Freedom Day, Selma, 1963 | HowardZinn.org

Howard Zinn’s Experiences in the South and How Racial Prejudice Can Change

Patricia Marx Interviews Howard Zinn | WNYC Radio Recorded in the 1960s (estimate 1964-1965 based on transcript), Patricia Marx sits down with historian Howard Zinn to discuss his books, SNCC: The New Abolitionists and The Southern Mystique. Zinn describes… Read More

Howard Zinn Inspired Spelman Women to Stand Up | HowardZinn.org

Howard Zinn Inspired Spelman Women to Stand Up, Speak Out, and Soar

Spelman College featured several scholars and activists who talked about the huge impact former Spelman professor Howard Zinn had upon their lives. Marian Wright Edelman recalls, “He was a very creative, magical teacher. He taught us how to… Read More

Memo to Bob Moses, 1964

Memo to Bob Moses | 1964

This 1964 memo from Howard Zinn to Bob Moses (a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) outlined a plan to minimize violence in Mississippi for the upcoming Freedom Summer, when hundreds of volunteers would be arriving to help… Read More

When Respectability Was No Longer Respectable, and Virtue Required Acting Out, Not Leaning In

The Nation • August 6, 1960 and republished March 23, 2015
One afternoon some weeks ago, with the dogwood on the Spelman College campus newly bloomed and the grass close-cropped and fragrant, an attractive, tawny-skinned girl crossed the lawn to her dormitory to put a notice on the bulletin board. It read: Young Ladies Who Can Picket Please Sign Below.

The notice revealed, in its own quaint language, that within the dramatic revolt of Negro college students in the South today another phenomenon has been developing. This is the upsurge of the young, educated Negro woman against the generations-old advice of her elders: be nice, be well-mannered and ladylike, don’t speak loudly, and don’t get into trouble. On the campus of the nation’s leading college for Negro young women—pious, sedate, encrusted with the traditions of gentility and moderation—these exhortations, for the first time, are being firmly rejected.

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Freedom Day, Selma, 1963 | HowardZinn.org

On the Road to Voting Rights: Freedom Day in Selma, 1963

In the 1960s, Howard Zinn, along with Ella Baker, served as advisers to SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. On this 50th anniversary year of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches and the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, we revisit Zinn’s first-hand account from Selma’s Freedom Day in 1963. “The idea was to bring hundreds of people to register to vote, hoping that their numbers would decrease fear. And there was much to fear,” Zinn writes.

The following excerpt is from Chapter 5 of Zinn’s autobiography, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train and is followed by related resources about Selma’s voting rights campaign, Freedom Day, and SNCC.

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‘You have to go beyond capitalism’: Dave Zirin Interviews Howard Zinn

On May 2, 2009, sportswriter Dave Zirin, author of A People’s History of Sports (New Press) and What’s My Name Fool? (Haymarket Books), interviewed Howard Zinn. Some 250 people attended the event at the University of Wisconsin, Madison…. Read More

Zinn Speaks: An Interview on the State of the Empire

By Wajajat Ali • Published at Counterpunch • April 19, 2008
Zinn reflects on his historic and memorable time at Spelman College in the ‘60s, his thoughts on the Democratic Party, his philosophy of dissent as democracy, and his hope for America’s future.

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Against Discouragement

In 1963, Howard Zinn was fired from Spelman College, where he was chair of the History Department, because of his civil rights activities. In 2005, he was invited back by President Beverly Daniel Tatum to give the commencement… Read More

“To Be Neutral, To Be Passive In A Situation Is To Collaborate With Whatever Is Going On”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you just came from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility? HOWARD ZINN: Well, actually, yesterday afternoon I spoke at the Bedford Hills, euphemistically called, Correctional Facility. They hardly correct anything, but… I spoke to prisoners there, women… Read More

HREA Director Interviews Historian Howard Zinn

Interview by Felisa Tibbitts • Human Rights Education Association • January 5, 2005
Historically, how do you think schools have served as a catalyst for social change and furthering the human rights movement?

Zinn: I think it works both ways. Students who learn in school about what is going on in the world are motivated to do something about it, to act on what they have learned. When I say it goes both ways, when you have students become active in human rights and feel that human rights has touched them personally, then they are likely to come back into the classroom and have the curriculum reflect their own consciousness.

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Howard Zinn – You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Interview by Lawrence R. Velvel • Books of Our Time • November 11, 2003
This discussion ranges from Mr. Zinn’s optimism for the future and what true Patriotism is, to what Americans don’t want to hear.

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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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SNCC: The Battle-Scarred Youngsters

Published in The Nation • October 5, 1963 and republished April 23, 2009
Having just spent a little time in Greenwood, Miss., I felt a certain air of unreality about the March on Washington. The grandiose speeches, the array of movie stars, the big names dropped and bounced several times, the sheer impress of numbers—all added up, technically, to an occasion that one describes as “thrilling.” And it must have been so to participants and to the millions who watched on television. Still, while swept up in the spirit myself, I wondered if, to the Negro citizen of Greenwood, Itta Bena, and Ruleville; of Albany, Americus, and Dawson; of Selma, Gadsden and Birmingham; of Danville, and other places, it may not have seemed the most Gargantuan and best organized of irrelevancies.

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