Howard Zinn died today, he was 87 years old. An activist, professor, and author of the seminal revisionist history text, A People‚Äôs History of The United States, Zinn’s teachings and writings asked as, us Americans, to question the established vantage point of history, among myriad other ideas. I am, however, by no means a scholar of Zinn’s work. If anything, I am an admirer — an especially light reader considering the volume of work he produced. But the way in which he viewed history as a complex narrative told from the perspective of everyday people — not just the wealthy or powerful — was an inspiration when I discovered it. The Boston Globe has an elegant obituary. Here is a quote from Mr. Zinn that I love:
“From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than ‘objectivity’; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble.”
Rest in peace, Mr. Zinn.