(1922 – 2010)
Professor, author, playwright, and social activist. He was probably
the United States’ most famous contemporary historian.
Howard Zinn lived from August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010. He wrote the classic, A People’s History of the United States, “a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories.” In 2009, The History Channel aired The People Speak, an acclaimed documentary co-directed by Zinn, based on A People’s History of the United States and a companion volume, Voices of a People’s History of the United States.
Zinn grew up in Brooklyn in a working-class, immigrant household. At 18 he became a shipyard worker and then flew bomber missions during World War II. These experiences helped shape his opposition to war and passion for history. After attending college under the GI Bill and earning a Ph.D. in history from Columbia, he taught at Spelman, where he became active in the civil rights movement. After being fired by Spelman for his support for student protesters, Zinn became a professor of Political Science at Boston University, were he taught until his retirement in 1988. He received the Lannan Foundation Literary Award for Nonfiction and the Eugene V. Debs award for his writing and political activism.