With sadness we report the death of Howard Zinn, historian, author, activist, and founding Board member of the National Whistleblower Center. Other sources have already reported Zinn’s remarkable biography. I recall how the time flew by thirty years ago when I read A People’s History of the United States during subway rides to law school. Zinn’s clear and informative writing made me wish I had taking history classes in college.
Here is a photo of Howard Zinn speaking last year at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC:
Zinn played an important role in assisting Daniel Ellsberg in the disclosure of the Pentagon Papers. Zinn, perhaps better than anyone, recognized the historical importance of putting the truth about the Vietnam War on the public record.
After ferrying the Pentagon Papers, Zinn continued his guiding role in the whistleblower movement. Zinn was a teacher and mentor to two partners of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP, specifically Stephen M. Kohn and David Colapinto. Both had the privilege of studying history from Zinn at Boston University. Later, Zinn wrote a preface for Stephen Kohn’s American Political Prisoners: Prosecutions Under the Espionage and Sedition Acts.
When Stephen Kohn, his brother Michael Kohn, and David Colapinto decided to form the National Whistleblowers Center, Howard Zinn joined them (as did Dennis Brutus, who death we mourned just last month). Zinn remained a Board member of NWC for the remainder of his life, just as he supported whistleblowers throughout his professional life. His writing, speaking and activism have inspired generations to desire peace, work for justice and shine of the light of truth wherever it is needed.