Howard Zinn

Historian Howard Zinn died yesterday.

Howard Zinn, a dangerous professor

Howard Zinn, a "dangerous" professor

Zinn was my hero, and why I became a historian.

I first encountered Zinn through his famous text A people’s history of the United States in college. Our professor had us do one of those stupid role playing games where I was Zinn and one of my classmates was Christopher Columbus. As Zinn, I was supposed to hold Columbus accountable for his crimes against humanity.

When all of my friends were taking off for grad school and I didn’t know what to do, my roommate suggested I write the historian I most admired for advice. That historian, of course, was Zinn, and amazingly he wrote back (I keep looking for the letter, but I can’t find it; I’m not sure what I did with it). His suggestion was that I say out on the streets making history rather than retreating into the Ivory Tower to study it. I’ve always rather regretted not following his advice.

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