Howard Zinn

By: Alix Lambert
August 24, 2011

Of his more than twenty books, activist and educator HOWARD ZINN (1922-2010) is best known for The People Speak and A People’s History of The United States; he gave voice to those without a voice, those Americans whose experiences and opinions had not been represented. In addition to his anti-war efforts — which grew out of his time serving in the air force during WWII — he was involved in the civil rights movement. Forty-one years after being fired from Spelman College for siding with the students against school authorities, Zinn returned to give the commencement speech. He titled his address “Against Discouragement.”

The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies. I know you have practical things to do — to get jobs and get married and have children. You may become prosperous and be considered a success in the way our society defines success, by wealth and standing and prestige. But that is not enough for a good life.

Elegant and willowy, with a shock of white hair and renegade eyebrows, Zinn worked steadily into his 87th year. After his beloved wife Roslyn, who’d walked by his side his entire career, died in May of 2008, it was only a year and a half before he would join her.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Jorge Luis Borges.

READ MORE about members of the New Gods Generation (1914-23).


Activism, HiLo Heroes