Mini Post in Honor of Howard Zinn

Today is the one year anniversary of the death of Howard Zinn. He was a historian, a writer, an activist, and an inspiration to many. He was born right here in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of Eastern European immigrants who worked in factories. He went on to get a Ph.D in history with a minor in political science. He’s written over 20 books, and is the author of the book that “woke me” up from my ignorant slumber, A People’s History of the United States.

In an interview given shortly before his death, Zinn said he wanted to be known as “somebody who gave people a feeling of hope and power that they didn’t have before.” I can say that, at least in the case of this Blue Collar Mamma, that is exactly what he did.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.(Source)

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4 Responses to Mini Post in Honor of Howard Zinn

  1. Jim Stewart says:

    If I had my way every American history student would have to read People’s History. I think I’m going to start reading it with Jeff pretty soon.

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