Howard Zinn, A Personal Reflection


“If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.” Howard Zinn

Editor’s note:  I wrote the brief piece below several years ago on Howard Zinn’s birthday. He died yesterday and his passing saddens me greatly. Howard Zinn was among the best that America has produced.

On a shelf above my computer is an old, very fragile, dog eared paperback copy of “A Peoples History Of The United States.” The pages are turning yellow and the binding is dried out and broken. Every time I open it I have to make sure that I put the pages back in the correct order.

Photograph by Robert Birnbaum

I bought it back in the early 80’s and it has been with me ever since. I’ve read it cover to cover several times and referred to it on countless occasions over the years.

In the early nineties, I believe it was in the spring of ninety two, after the second or third reading I was moved to write the author a letter of thanks.

I thanked him for writing a book that I wished that I had the talent, insight and energy to write and for his struggles in the civil rights movement in the 60’s as well as his significant struggle against the war in Vietnam.

Much to my surprise and delight, a few weeks later I received a two page letter of reply, thanking me in return and encouraging me to continue to write and remain politically active. We corresponded perhaps twice more and spoke on the phone once. He was very gracious and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with someone I admired so greatly.

There are many Americans that I have admired in my life, there are some that I have looked upon as heroes, but none more so than Howard Zinn.

Mr. Zinn is a true American hero. A young man who answered his country’s call to arms in World War Two and took his personal knowledge of the madness and horror of war and inhumanity and turned it into a life that would become a fight for peace and social justice.

Bob Higgins

See also:
A Memory of Howard by Daniel Ellsberg at Truthdig

Robert Birnbaum, who took the excellent photograph above, interviewed Howard Zinn a few years ago.

Read it here: Robert Birnbaum talks with the author of A People’s History of the United States

More on Howard Zinn

Wikipedia Article on Howard Zinn

[youtube IMt7cFFKPeM UC Berkeley’s Harry Kreisler interviews historian and activist Howard Zinn]


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