Interviews With Howard Zinn

Freedom Day, Selma, 1963 | HowardZinn.org

Howard Zinn’s Experiences in the South and How Racial Prejudice Can Change

Patricia Marx Interviews Howard Zinn | WNYC Radio Recorded 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… Read More

When Zinn and Chomsky Met

Today (December 7) is the birthday of Howard Zinn’s longtime friend Noam Chomsky. In celebration, we share this interview with David Barsamian (DB) of Alternative Radio about how they met. Excerpted from The Future of History, Zinn discusses… Read More

Sam Lovejoy and ‘No Nukes’ Activism

In September 1974, Sam Lovejoy went on trial for “malicious destruction” of a weather tower that had been erected to test wind direction at the site for the planned construction of a nuclear power plant. Howard Zinn testified… Read More

‘One Long Struggle for Justice’

Author on Air • January 19, 2010
In early January of 2010, the Zinn Education Project joined with HarperCollins, publisher of Howard Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States, to sponsor an “Ask Howard” online radio interview, and invited teachers from around the country to participate. Sixty teachers and students submitted written questions to Professor Zinn. The Jan. 19 interview was conducted by Rethinking Schools Curriculum Editor Bill Bigelow. Below is the full audio recording, followed by excerpts from that interview, edited for length and clarity.

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Howard Zinn: Interview by Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers Journal • December 11, 2009
“I have confidence in the future. You know why? You have to be patient. Farmworkers were at one point in as helpless a position as the labor movement is today. But as Cesar Chavez said, we learned that you have to organize. And it takes time, it takes patience, it takes persistence.”

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Howard Zinn on Obama

TV Without Borders (TVXS) • May 30, 2009
Recorded in Greece, Zinn talks about Obama and the presidency.

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‘I Wish Obama Would Listen to MLK’

Legendary historian Howard Zinn joins us to talk about war, torture and the teaching of history. Zinn says had Obama heeded the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he wouldn’t be escalating U.S. attacks abroad and increasing… Read More

‘You have to go beyond capitalism’: Dave Zirin Interviews Howard Zinn

On May 2, 2009, sportswriter Dave Zirin, author of A People’s History of Sports (New Press) and What’s My Name Fool? (Haymarket Books), interviewed Howard Zinn. Some 250 people attended the event at the University of Wisconsin, Madison…. Read More

‘Election Day Will Not Be Enough’: An Interview with Howard Zinn

Interview by Jessica Lee and John Tarleton • Indypendent • Nov. 14, 2008
“Significant changes occur when social movements reach a critical point of power capable of moving cautious politicians beyond their tendency to keep things as they are — or when these movements, by direct action, bypass the political system and bring about change by acting directly on the obstacles to change.”

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Our Interview with the People’s Historian, Howard Zinn

The Boulder Weekly • Oct. 2, 2008
“We resemble other times in history before the movements were effective — when they were just growing, when they were just developing. The anti-slavery movement had to develop over 30 years. The anti-war movement against Vietnam had to develop over four or five years. The Civil Rights movement had to develop over decades and decades. So, we are in a stage of development. You can’t just look at where we are right now and say, ‘Well, we’re not doing it, we’re incapable, we’re hopeless.'”

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U.S. ‘In Need of Rebellion’

Interviewed by Al Jazeera • Sept. 13, 2008
Q: Is there any hope the US will change its approach to the rest of the world?

“If there is any hope, the hope lies in the American people. [It] lies in American people becoming resentful enough and indignant enough over what has happened to their country, over the loss of dignity in the world, over the starving of human resources in the United States, the starving of education and health, the takeover of the political mechanism by corporate power and the result this has on the everyday lives of the American people.”

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The Citizens Among Us

Interview by Gabriel Matthew Schivone • ZCommunications • August 29, 2008
GMS: Let’s start with the second resolution of the March 4 Manifesto: “To devise means for turning research applications away from their present emphasis on military technology toward the solution of pressing social and environmental problems.” Would you explain the importance of this idea of scientific reconversion?

It’s been a long-standing problem of science being used for destruction or for construction. It goes back to Hiroshima and Nagasaki—it goes back to the atomic bomb. In fact, that probably was the first really dramatic instance of the use of the latest scientific knowledge to kill human beings.

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Howard Zinn’s Advice to Obama

Interview by Rob Kall • OpEd News • Aug. 28, 2008
Do you have any advice for Obama?

“Yes. Speak boldly to the American people, the American people want to get out of Iraq. Speak boldly and say, ‘I’m going to withdraw from Iraq as fast as ships and planes can carry them,’ and I think that Obama will have a much better chance of winning the election because he will be speaking to the hearts of the American people, who really are sick of the war.”

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Howard Zinn on Democracy in America

Interview by BigThink • 7/5/08
What is the state of democracy in America?
HOWARD ZINN: We don’t have a lot of democracy in America today. We have these formal institutions. We have representative government and we have a Bill of Rights… Sure, we are more democratic than an absolutist and totalitarian state, but we in the United States are still quite a long way from democracy and certainly a long way from economic democracy.

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The Legacy of Howard Zinn

Interview by BigThink • July 5, 2008
What do you want to be remembered for?

HOWARD ZINN: If I want to be remembered for anything, it’s for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality, for getting more and more people to think that way. Also, for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points in history, they have used it.

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Rebels Against Tyranny: An Interview with Howard Zinn on Anarchism

Interview by Žiga Vodovnik • Published at CounterPunch • May 12, 2008
“There is one central characteristic of anarchism on the matter of means, and that central principle is a principle of direct action. … In the South, they did not wait for the government to give them a signal, or to go through the courts, to file lawsuits, wait for Congress to pass the legislation. They took direct action; they went into restaurants, were sitting down there and wouldn’t move. They got on those busses and acted out the situation that they wanted to exist.”

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Howard Zinn’s Personal Philosophy

Interview by BigThink • 5/8/08
How do you blend anarchism, socialism and communism?
HOWARD ZINN: I think there are elements in all three that are useful.

Is that a practical way of thinking?
HOWARD ZINN: It’s certainly not practical in the sense of something that’s immediately achievable. But I think it’s very important to hold as a goal.

Watch video at BigThink: Howard Zinn’s Personal Philosophy

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Howard Zinn on U.S. Presidential Candidates

Interview by BigThink • 5/8/08
Who do you endorse for President [in the 2008 U.S. election]?
HOWARD ZINN: Between Clinton and Obama, well both of them have promised to end the [Iraq] war, but I must say their proposals for bringing the troops out of Iraq are rather halfhearted and they talk about keeping troops there, or Barack Obama says, “Let’s take troops out of Iraq, send troops to Afghanistan.” Neither of them has shaken what Barack Obama rightly called the mindset that led to the Iraq war. The mindset is a mindset which sees war and military intervention as a solution. Neither of them has shaken that.

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Howard Zinn on Race in America

Interview by BigThink • 5/8/08
Topic: Race in America

HOWARD ZINN: There are more openings in media and business and the professions for a certain number of Black people. But I speak about 10 or 20 percent. For the vast majority of Black people, their lives are still constricted by poverty and racism. The civil rights movement accomplished a good deal by beginning to remove some of the important social barriers. What it did not remove was the barrier of class, the barrier of economic injustice.

Martin Luther King recognized this. That’s why toward the end of his life he began working for economic rights for Black people.

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Learning From World War II

Interview by BigThink • 5/8/08
What did you learn from your experience in WW II?

HOWARD ZINN: I didn’t learn much about myself during that time, that is, while I was at war. You don’t learn much while you’re in the military except doing your job. By that, I mean you don’t think outside of your job. I didn’t really learn very much until after the war and when I began to think about the war, and this was the best of wars. I began to think about what war accomplishes and, as I say, this was the best of wars. When I examined the best of wars, I found it so ridden through with immorality and atrocity, not just on the Nazi side, but on our side. I began to question the whole idea of war itself, war for any reason, war against evil. I decided that even if you’re fighting a great evil, by going to war, you match that evil and you perpetuate the evil in a different form.

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