In the South
Whitney Young Jr. (July 31, 1921 – March 11, 1971) was a civil rights leader and head of the National Urban League. In the documentary The Powerbroker (2013), Howard Zinn recalls working with Young on desegregation efforts in the South:
You can learn this from Whitney: that it’s possible to have an important post and still move out from that and join whatever movement is going on for social justice.…
Source: WNYC RadioRecorded 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 his experiences teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1956 to 1963, and his subsequent observations on racial prejudice in the southern United States.
Source: Freedom Summer Digital Collection at Wisconsin Historical SocietyThis 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 African-American residents register to vote, establish a new political party, and learn about history and politics in the newly-formed Freedom Schools. The memo also addressed ways to pressure President Johnson to enforce constitutional rights of citizens exercising their right to vote.
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.
Discussion ranges from the U.S. elections, the New Deal in the 1930s, the struggle for racial justice, equal marriage, and the need to recreate a socialist alternative.
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.
In 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.…