In Memory of Howard Zinn

Posted by Jodie -

Wed, Jan 27, 2010

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Heartbreaking news that Howard Zinn died today. He was in good spirits just days ago when I spoke to him about a dinner party we were planning. He was very proud of The People Speak and excited that it had played to the not left-leaning audience on the History Channel. When asked if he wanted a memorial, he said “No, I have been honored too much already in my life.”

The anti-war movement and the progressive movement in the world have been inspired by what Howard uncovered about the history of the movements that came before us. They would have been hidden were it not for him. We stand on his shoulders. And as heartbroken and grief filled as I am in the moment, I know he is saying, “Don’t mourn, organize.”

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places (and there are so many) where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don¹t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
~ Howard Zinn

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  • Nadya Williams

    The words of Howard Zinn that you quote here are prominently displayed in the window of City Lights Bokstore, here in San Francisco, where we greatly enjoyed Howard’s appearance on several occasions. He personified Soul Force.

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