The Nation: Goodbye Howard Zinn

Partner content from The Nation

Author Howard Zinn i i

Author Howard Zinn speaks during the People Speak ASCAP Music Cafe performance held during the 2009 Sundance Music Festival on January 22, 2009 in Park City, Utah. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
Author Howard Zinn

Author Howard Zinn speaks during the People Speak ASCAP Music Cafe performance held during the 2009 Sundance Music Festival on January 22, 2009 in Park City, Utah.

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and the author of the seminal A People's History of the United States, died yesterday at the age of 87 of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California. He was in a swimming pool doing laps and was spotted immediately by lifeguards but died instantly.

Zinn's brand of history put common citizens at the center of the story and inspired generations of young activists and academics to remember that change is possible. As he wrote in his autobiography, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994), "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."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.