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International Journal of Social Education, v24 n1 p27-32 Spr-Sum 2009

In recent decades many people came to know Howard Zinn for his outspoken advocacy on a wide range of progressive causes, including civil rights, free speech, workers' rights, education reform, and opposition to U.S. imperialism. The author's own first encounter with Howard Zinn's special combination of scholarship and activism occurred several decades earlier, while he attended graduate school in the 1970s to study U.S. history. The first time the author read Zinn was in a short essay, entitled Abolitionists, Freedom Riders and the Tactics of Agitation, in Martin Duberman's The Antislavery Vanguard: New Essays on the Abolitionists (1965). This essay guided the author to Zinn's SNCC: The New Abolitionists (Zinn 1964), one of his first monographs. In his essay Zinn attempted to stress the parallels between the early nineteenth century reformers who challenged not just slavery but the pervasive racial prejudice of their society and the recruits to the post World War II civil rights movement. In this article, the author talks about Howard Zinn and the socially conscious academic. He discusses how Zinn set an example to progressive academics not to retreat into their scholarship.

Descriptors: Slavery, United States History, Civil Rights, Educational Change, Social Responsibility, Educational History, College Environment, Teacher Role, Historians, Biographies, College Faculty, Scholarship, Activism, Dissent, Political Attitudes, Civil Disobedience, Historical Interpretation, Historiography, History Instruction, Politics of Education, Role of Education, Social Change, Social Justice, Educational Philosophy, Consciousness Raising

International Journal of Social Education. Ball State University, Department of History, Muncie, IN 47306. Tel: 765-285-8700; Fax: 765-285-5612; Web site:

Author: McKivigan, John R.


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