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Remembering Howard Zinn (1922 - 2010)

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Remembering Howard Zinn (1922 - 2010) - by Stephen Lendman

Distinguished scholar, author, political scientist, people's historian, activist, and son of blue-collar immigrant parents, Zinn was born on August 24, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York and died in Santa Monica, CA of a reported heart attack while swimming on January 27. He's survived by two children, Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jeff Zinn, and five grandchildren.

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He was 87, and a valued guest several times on The Lendman News Hour and Progressive Radio News Hour. He'll be sorely missed.

Writing in CounterPunch on January 28, journalist, author and activist Harvey Wasserman called him "above all a gentleman of unflagging grace, humility and compassion."

Interviewed on Democracy Now, his former student, author Alice Walker, said "he had such a wonderful impact on my life and on the lives of the students of Spelman and of millions of people....he loved his students."

On the same program, Noam Chomsky spoke about Zinn during the Vietnam war period saying:

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His book, The Logic of Withdrawal "really broke through. He was the first person to say - loudly, publicly, very persuasively - that this simply has to stop; we should get out, period, no conditions; we have no right to be there; it's an act of aggression; pull out."

He "not only wrote about (it) eloquently, but he participated in" anti-war efforts to end the war, for civil and worker rights, and "any significant action for peace and justice. Howard was there. People saw him as a leader, but he was really a participant. His remarkable character made him a leader...."

Also interviewed, author/activist Anthony Arnove said:

"Howard never rested. He had such energy. And over the last few years, he continued to write, continued to speak....He wanted to bring a new generation of people into contact with the voices of dissent, the voices of protest, that they don't get in their school textbooks, that we don't get in our establishment media, and to remind them of the power of their own voice, remind them of the power of dissent, the power of's incumbent upon all of us to extend and keep (his legacy) alive and vibrant."

In his book, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times," Zinn recounted how he went "to work in a shipyard at the age of eighteen and (spent) three years working on the docks, in the cold and heat, amid deafening noise and poisonous fumes, building battleships and landing ships in the early years of the Second World War."

At age 21, he "enlist(ed) in the Air Force, (was) trained as a bombardier, fl(ew) combat missions in Europe, and later ask(ed himself) troubling questions about what (he) had done in the war."

When it ended, he "married, becam(e) a father, (went) to college under the GI Bill while loading trucks in a warehouse, with (his) wife (Roslyn: 1944 - 2008) working and (his) two children in a charity day-care center, and all of (them) living in a low-income housing project on (Manhattan's) Lower East Side."

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He got his BA from New York University, then his MA and Ph.D. in history and political science from Columbia University, after which he got his "first real teaching job, going to live and teach (at Spelman College) in a black community in the Deep South for seven years."

He then "move(d)....north to teach (at Boston University), and join(ed) the protests against the war in Vietnam, and (got) arrested a half-dozen times," officially charged with "sauntering and loitering, disorderly conduct, (and) failure to quit."

He recalled speaking at "hundreds of meetings and rallies....helping a Catholic priest stay underground in defiance of the law, (and testifying) in a dozen the 1970s and 1980s." He wrote about "the prisoners (he knew), short-timers and lifers, and how (they) affected (his) view of imprisonment."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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