Farewell to Howard Zinn

The BU professor, author of the A People's History of the United States, early critic of the Vietnam War and a strong supporter of civil rights, died today at 87.

Jim Sullivan remembers his friend:

... I will say Howard inspired many, myself included, as a historian, activist, an avid participant in the world, someone who never let his optimism fail, despite the shitstorms that kept on coming down around us. Howard and I occasionally went to Red Sox games, the last time in September against the Blue Jays. He was having trouble walking, pain in his legs and back and had to stop several times walking to the cab stand. But did I think something like this was imminent? No. Inevitable? Of course. Eventually. Not today. ...

Joy of Sox: A great American died today.

Charles Laquidara: The bane of B.U. President John Silbur's existence, Professor Howard Zinn dead at 87.

Garrett Quinn says farewell:

He wasn't exactly a friend of the right but he was a prolific writer and playwright who contributed in a thoughtful way to national discourse. A veteran of air combat in Europe during World War II he committed his life to anti-war causes.

Jim: Tonight there is one less courageous person in the world.

Burroughs Answering Machine:
What a loss for us all
:

Like many, once I was introduced to his seminal work, A People's History of the United States, and my life was changed forever.

Jeff Egnaczyk recalls Zinn for more than just his book:

... The book may be what Zinn is remembered for but his activism for civil rights and against war cannot be forgotten. ...

Kathy was inspired by him:

One of my fondest memories of Howard Zinn was when I ran into him and his wife in the lobby of the Washington Square Hotel in NYC in 2004. I made a point of telling him how his book inspired me to study history in college. ...

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    Comments

    A great man

    Howard Zinn was my friend. I had only come to know him through work and only for the last 2 years of his life, but we hit it off pretty quick. He would always introduce me to people as "a politically astute young radical". I sat in his little home office with him a few times, where he would ask me to show him sites like "Big Hollywood" that wrote horrible things about him and his work.He hated talk radio and never listened to it and always chastened me for listening to it. He said of Rush Limbaugh once, "I listened to him once and he was talking about his private jet and how much he loved it, and I had to think;why do so many people of modest and even struggling means eat up every word this man says?" He missed his wife terribly in his final years and when I asked him how he made a marriage work for over sixty years, he said "Love is nothing but luck, you just have to have to be lucky enough to find the right person." He had back surgery last year and he said it really didn't help with the pain, but it did not stop him from constant travel. My favorite story of his was of how he met Eddie Vedder for the first time, "I was sitting at home one day and the phone rang and a polite young man said 'Mr. Zinn, my name is Eddie Vedder and I like to do an article with you for Interview Magazine, and I said OK, who are you?" A true American patriot and a good man.

    Flip a coin

    "I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president — which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction"
    - Howard Zinn

    My sympathies to his family. That said;

    Zinn and Silber are (or were) two sides of the same coin. Even though Zinn's politics were more in line with mine, I do recognize that he and Silber are people who have spent so much of their lives advocating and defending a particular position that they have backed themselves into mental corners. These types of people develop a "with me or against me" attitude that is corrosive and inhibits any kind of compromise with the "enemy".