Howard Zinn, 1922-2010
One of my former secrecy students just emailed to say Howard Zinn passed away.
I never met Dr. Zinn, but when we compiled our secrecy text, I knew “Secrecy, Archives, and the Public Interest,” had to be included. It’s an article that concerns professional responsibility, the right to truth, power, and history. This relationship is vital to any study of government secrecy, and Zinn squarely lays out the uncomfortable ethical positions that potentially face those in the memory professions.
To obtain copyright permission, I sent an email to an old address for Dr. Zinn I found on the Web, never thinking I would receive an answer. A day or so went by, then I received an email granting permissions and a note on Voices of a People’s History, which I had just seen and happened to mention. The emails were simply signed, Howard.
Howard Zinn left – not just for us academics who desperately seek a different model for scholarship and teaching- but for all of us, a populist history, an inclusive history, where unlikely heroes and heroines across borders and color shine and inspire with courage and conviction. In making history personal, Howard showed us that we make our own history in the truest sense, and are ultimately responsible for the world. We can’t be neutral on a moving train, nor should we.