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Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. A Play on History. On the other side are formidable forces: On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution.

A People's History of the United States: - Present » Zinn Education Project

Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over.

It is now up to all of us to take it back. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals the fierce conflicts of interest sometimes exploding, often repressed between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such as world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.


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I wonder now how the foreign policies of the United States would look if we wiped out the national boundaries of the world, at least in our minds, and thought of all children everywhere as our own. Then we could never drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, or napalm on Vietnam, or wage war anywhere, because wars, especially in our time, are always wars against children, indeed our children.

This was not just because the poor committed more crimes.

Howard Zinn: History of America

In fact, they did. The rich did not have to commit crimes to get what they wanted; the laws were on their side. But when the rich did commit crimes, they often were not prosecuted, and if they were they could get out on bail, hire clever lawyers, get better treatment from judges.

A Note and a disclaimer.

Somehow, the jails ended up full of poor black people. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions--poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed--which are at the root of most punished crime.

The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished.

A People’s History of the United States: 1492 – Present

It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity. A Personal History of Our Times. Those special people who speak out in such a way as to shake up not only the self-assurance of their enemies, but the complacency of their friends, are precious catalysts for change.

Essays on War and Justice.

That core belief never changed. Chosen by Zinn himself as the shorter writings on history he believed to have enduring value—originally appearing in newspapers such as the Boston Globe and the New York Times ; in magazines such as Z , the New Left , the Progressive , and the Nation ; and in his book Failure to Quit —these essays appear here as examples of the kind of passionate engagement he believed all historians, and indeed all citizens of whatever profession, need to have, standing in sharp contrast to the notion of "objective" or "neutral history" espoused by some.

It was about telling people to believe in themselves and their power to change the world.


  1. A People's History of the United States.
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  6. What matters is to take part, as best we can, in the small actions of unknown people that can stave off disaster and bring about a better world, to honor them for their achievement, to do what we can to ensure that these achievements are understood and carried forward. It's come to our attention that Arkansas State Representative Kim Hendren has recently proposed a bill to ban all books by or about Howard Zinn from use in public schools and open-enrollment charter schools throughout the state.

    We'll track how it fares over the next few months.

    Other books by Howard Zinn

    For now, we can just hope it does what such silly attempts at censorship tend to do these days: Check out some great Zinn titles from SSP below. And if you're from Arkansas, drop us a line at sevenstories sevenstories. Through a lifetime of pointed scholarship and principled civil disobedience, he has led and continues to lead generations in the ways of peace.