With Banned Book Week (Sept. 21-28) in full swing, we want to call attention to the recent—sometimes successful—attempts to ban Zinn’s work, A People’s History of the United States.
In 2012, the Tucson Unified School District decided to abolish the highly-successful Mexican American Studies Program and called for an immediate removal of all program books, including A People’s History of the United States and other people’s history texts.
In 2013, Indiana’s governor Mitch Daniels’ orders to the ban the use of any of Zinn’s books in K-12 classrooms gained national attention, especially since Daniels is now the president of Purdue University.
Despite these attempts, you don’t have to search far to find expressions of the impact A People’s History has on people. In Keith Knightly’s comic strip tribute to Howard Zinn, he wrote:
“Zinn’s book was my Catcher in the Rye…it profoundly changed my thinking. Up til then, every U.S. history book I read made slavery and Jim Crow sound mildly flawed at worst, warm and fuzzy at best.”
This empowerment that people gain from learning the unknown, buried, or forgotten histories that Zinn highlights is cause to not only celebrate the freedom to read, to critical inquiry, and to open access to information, but also to champion the right for future generations to learn a people’s history.
Paralleling Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, Voices of a People’s History is the companion volume with first person voices—speeches, letters, poems, and songs.
The 10th anniversary edition will feature new voices including whistleblower Chelsea Manning; Naomi Klein, speaking from the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Liberty Square; a member of Dream Defenders, a youth organization that confronts systemic racial inequality; members of the Undocumented Youth movement, who occupied, marched, and demonstrated in support of the DREAM Act; a member of the Day Laborers movement; and several critics of the Obama administration, including Glenn Greenwald, on governmental secrecy.
Available from Seven Stories Press, Nov. 2014.
On April 20, 1914, the Colorado National Guard attacked a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families in Ludlow, Colorado. An estimated two dozen people were killed, including young children.
Known as the Ludlow Massacre, Howard Zinn described its importance and obscurity in The Politics of History, “The culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history. Despite five thousands pages of testimony, taken at the time by Congressional investigating bodies, it remains an obscure event, rarely mentioned in textbooks on American history.”
In Howard Zinn’s brilliant, timely play, Karl Marx launches into a passionate, funny and moving defense of his life and political ideas.
The play is an excellent introduction to Marx’s life, his analysis of society, and his passion for radical change. Marx uses current news and events to show how his ideas still resonate.
Visit www.ironagetheatre.org for more information and reviews.
In August 2014, a new version of HowardZinn.org launched to provide greater online access to articles, interviews, and other works by and about Howard Zinn. The website also offers a comprehensive list of books by Howard Zinn and announcements about events based on Zinn’s work. Additional articles, interviews, photos, and other archival materials will be added to the site in the months ahead.
If you have additional interviews or archival materials by Howard Zinn that can be published online, email email@example.com.
Professor Robin D.G. Kelley is one of the featured keynote speakers.
Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented to:
On April 24, 2014, a daylong symposium was held at New York University (NYU) to celebrate the donation of Zinn’s personal papers to NYU’s Tamiment Library by his children, Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jeff Zinn. Included in the donation are Zinn’s personal correspondences, school and military records, FBI files, datebooks, biographical articles, and interviews.
Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.
By Alison Kysia
Most famously, former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels celebrated Zinn’s death in emails to his education lieutenants and ordered them to find and remove Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, from schools and teacher education programs. Read More
By Andrea Germano
In organizing a Howard Zinn read-in at Purdue University, students have cultivated what is described as an “imaginative and defiant response to the corporate attack on our students and our schools.”Controversy flared the summer when the Associated Press revealed that Mitch Daniels, former Indiana Governor and now Purdue University president, attempted to censor Howard Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States from Indiana classrooms. Read More
By Bill Bigelow
Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, one of the country’s most widely read history books, died on January 27, 2010. Shortly after, then-Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels got on his computer and fired off an email to the state’s top education officials: “This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away.” Read More
Mitch Daniels, as an unconventional choice to become Purdue University’s president, has repeatedly pledged his strong commitment to academic freedom. And many professors — including some who had questioned the wisdom of appointing a governor as university president — have given him high marks for the start of his work at Purdue.
A new book is available that engage the various complexities and tensions present throughout Howard Zinn’s work and subject them to a 21st century assessment. It is edited by Stephen Bird, Adam Silver, and Joshua Yesnowitz.
Here is the publisher’s description:
Agitation with a Smile offers a reappraisal of Howard Zinn’s political thought and situates his efforts in a contemporary context, looking toward the nature of activism and dissent in the future. This is the first book to provide a substantive account and assessment of Zinn’s philosophy and approach to collective action and, to a larger extent, democracy. Read More
Alternative Radio, established in 1986, is a weekly one-hour public affairs program offered free to all public radio stations with information, analyses and views that are frequently ignored or distorted in other media. The programs are also available on CD and MP3 for classroom use. (There is a small processing fee.)
Alternative Radio has an archive of more than 50 talks and interviews by Howard Zinn. Here is a list of the topics: Read More
This special edition came about after scholars presented and discussed perspectives on the important influences of Howard Zinn to education, history, and citizenship at the 2010 Midwest Peace and Justice Summit in Indianapolis.
As the editors explain in the Introduction:
The collection begins with a variety of essays concerning the personal influence of Zinn to each of the different scholars from diverse academic disciplines.
Continue reading at the Zinn Education Project.
Poet Martín Espada wrote a poem to honor Howard Zinn called “Castles for the Laborers and Ballgames on the Radio.” He read the poem during a 2013 interview on Moyers & Company. Espada referred to Zinn as “the most decent, most generous human being I have ever known.”
Moyers & Company • January 17, 2013
“Reading Howard’s spoken words I feel that I am almost hearing his voice again. Even in writing its unique appeal comes through — his stunning pitch-perfect ability to capture the moment and the concerns and needs of the audience whoever they may be, always enlightening, often stirring, an amalgam of insight, critical history, wit, blended with charm and appeal. I’ve heard Howard speak to tens of thousands at demonstrations, to small groups of homeless people, to activists enduring brutal treatment, and at many other times and places. Always just the right tone and message, always inspiring, a gift to all of us to be treasured.” —Noam Chomsky
For more information see Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches, 1963 – 2009.
During the 2011–2012 school year, the non-profit organization Voices of a People’s History ran a pilot project in Chicago to bring free educational resources, public performing arts programming, film screenings, and professional development workshops to educators and their students in Chicago area public schools and in community organizations. The Chicago Voices pilot launched in Fall 2011. Read More
Last week, the Tucson Unified School District eliminated a popular Mexican American Studies program in local high schools that, in a short period of time, had done a lot of good.. . .When an outside audit gave the program a positive review, the district ended it anyway and, for good measure, ordered that teachers discontinue using texts like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, Rodolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima, Rodolfo Acuna’s Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, Elizabeth Martinez’s 500 Years of Chicano History, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Continue reading “Book Banning in Arizona” in Academe Blog by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic.