Remembering Howard Zinn, Historian and Activist

2 02 2010

A statement from my friends at the ANSWER Coalition:

The ANSWER Coalition joins with the anti-war and progressive movement worldwide in mourning the loss of historian and activist Howard Zinn, who died Wednesday at the age of 87. While we extend our deepest condolences to his friends and family, we also note that his 87 years constituted one proud, unceasing effort in the fight for justice.

We know further, that while Prof. Zinn may be gone, his books, which have opened so many eyes and minds to the hidden history of the United States, will continue to inspire generations of activists to come. It is no accident that each year the sales of his People’s History of the United States continued to outpace the prior year’s sales (a nearly unprecedented feat in book publishing).

His intellectual and historical contributions are only one part of Professor Zinn’s life and legacy. Indeed, he learned about history by taking part in it. Professor Zinn became involved in the struggle for justice in the 1950s, as the modern Civil Rights Movement was beginning to grow in the Deep South. As a professor at Spelman, he lent his advice and support to the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the youth movement that was taking bold action against Jim Crow. While his activism ultimately cost him his job, Prof. Zinn recalled that he “learned more from [his] students than [his] students learned from [him.]”

Prof. Zinn dedicated the next half-century to opposing militarism and war abroad, and injustice at home. He practiced what he preached, frequently joining the picket lines of striking workers and lending his voice to the anti-war movement.

In 2007, in a statement for the ANSWER website, Prof. Zinn wrote: “I’ll be marching March 17th, with my wife, with friends, to express our solidarity with all those people, all over the country, who demand that the United States bring our troops back from Iraq. We need to make clear to the Democrats in Congress that we expect bold action from them to stop the war, to save the lives of Americans and Iraqis, and use the enormous sums wasted on war to serve the needs of the people.”

Howard Zinn endorsed and worked with the anti-war movement to build the strongest opposition to the Iraq invasion and other colonial-type wars. On March 20, when tens of thousands march together we will honor the work, the legacy and the example of Howard Zinn.

Indeed, this is how we will be honoring the life and legacy of Howard Zinn: by building the movement and protests that he always approached with so much energy and enthusiasm.

Long live Howard Zinn, activist and people’s historian!



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