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Fri Jan 27, 2012, 05:07 PM

Remembering Howard Zinn

The historian and activist dedicated his life to "the countless small actions of unknown people".

Last Modified: 27 Jan 2012 10:35

Editor's note: Today, January 27, is the second anniversary of the death of Howard Zinn. An active participant in the Civil Rights movement, he was dismissed in 1963 from his position as a tenured professor at Spelman College in Atlanta after siding with black women students in the struggle against segregation. In 1967, he wrote one of the first, and most influential, books calling for an end to the war in Vietnam. A veteran of the US Army Air Force, he edited The Pentagon Papers, leaked by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and was later designated a "high security risk" by the FBI.

His best-selling A People's History of the United States spawned a new field of historical study: People's Histories. This approach countered the traditional triumphalist examination of "history as written by the victors", instead concentrating on the poor and seemingly powerless; those who resisted imperial, cultural and corporate hegemony. Zinn was an award-winning social activist, writer and historian - and so who better to share his memory than his close friend and fellow intellectual giant, Noam Chomsky?

Cambridge, Mass - It is not easy for me to write a few words about Howard Zinn, the great American activist and historian. He was a very close friend for 45 years. The families were very close too. His wife Roz, who died of cancer not long before, was also a marvellous person and close friend. Also sombre is the realisation that a whole generation seems to be disappearing, including several other old friends: Edward Said, Eqbal Ahmed and others, who were not only astute and productive scholars, but also dedicated and courageous militants, always on call when needed - which was constant. A combination that is essential if there is to be hope of decent survival.

Howard's remarkable life and work are summarised best in his own words. His primary concern, he explained, was "the countless small actions of unknown people" that lie at the roots of "those great moments" that enter the historical record - a record that will be profoundly misleading, and seriously disempowering, if it is torn from these roots as it passes through the filters of doctrine and dogma. His life was always closely intertwined with his writings and innumerable talks and interviews. It was devoted, selflessly, to empowerment of the unknown people who brought about great moments. That was true when he was an industrial worker and labour activist, and from the days, 50 years ago, when he was teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, a black college that was open mostly to the small black elite.

in full: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/01/201212382259755885.html

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Reply Remembering Howard Zinn (Original post)
Jefferson23 Jan 2012 OP
got root Jan 2012 #1
EFerrari Jan 2012 #2
Luminous Animal Jan 2012 #3

Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 05:26 PM

1. "Howard Zinn's life and work are an unforgettable model"

 

", sure to leave a permanent stamp on how history is understood and how a decent and honorable life should be lived."

He is deeply missed, but will never be forgotten. Thank you Howard for providing such a remarkable example.

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 06:45 PM

2. Howard was a gift. n/t

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Response to Jefferson23 (Original post)

Fri Jan 27, 2012, 07:44 PM

3. Yay! I just came here to post that! What a lovely tribute by Mr. Chomsky.

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