Howard Zinn was a historian, an author, a playwright; an anti-war activist and a champion of civil rights; but above all, Howard Zinn was a teacher.
He chaired the Department of History and Social Sciences at Spelman, an all-black women's college in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1956 to 1963. He also served as an adviser to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at Spelman--until he was fired for "encouraging Spelman's young women to picket and engage in other "unladylike' activities." He then became a Professor of Political Science at Boston University, where he repeatedly clashed with University officials over his public opposition to the Viet Nam War (Forbes.com, 2/1/10). Zinn retired from BostonUniversity in 1988, "spending his last day of class on the picket line with students in support of an on-campus nurses' strike."--AP, 1/29/10
Wherever Howard Zinn taught, his lessons went far beyond the names and dates, facts and figures that pass for history in too many classes. He wanted something more for his students:
"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."--You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Beacon Press, 1994
"My hope is that you will not be content just to be successful in the way our society measures success; that you will not obey the rules, when the rules are unjust; that you will act out the courage that I know is in you.", 2005 Commencement address at Spelman College (where Zinn had been fired in 1963)
Howard Zinn didn't just teach history; he taught patriotism--not the flag-waving, Chicken-Hawk kind of patriotism that Rush Limbaugh and Fox News sells-- but a higher form of patriotism.
"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain."--George McGovern, Democratic anti-war candidate for President, 1/18/71
"The peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: 'Our country--when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right'."--Carl Schurz (1829-1906), American statesman and Union Army General in the American Civil War