29 January 2010

Share Your Faith Question #3: "Thank You"

Howard Zinn
1922 - 2010

(To see video of Dr. Zinn discussing his legacy, click the photo.)

"I want to be remembered as somebody who gave people a feeling
of hope and power that they didn’t have before." -- Howard Zinn

When news broke on Wednesday evening that the professor, historian, and peace activist Howard Zinn had died, a certain part of the Facebook community found themselves suddenly mourning. Young adults all over the country (most of whom first encountered Zinn and his book A People's History of the United States* as college students) were saddened to realize that the man who had so inspired them to work for peace and justice was gone. The group "Thank You Howard Zinn" gained literally thousands of new members overnight and was inundated with messages of grief and gratitude. "We will both mourn and organize," said one; another, "Thanks for making history something I actually can understand!"

That so many young adults respect and admire Dr. Zinn is no surprise: as a champion for those whose lives and concerns were overlooked in both history's conventional narrative and today's struggle for power and prosperity, he was rebellious and principled. As a teacher, he assured his students that their voices matter and told them that they are obligated to speak for those who cannot.

Learn, he said. Question what you think you know. Commit yourself to justice.

Whose life or work has inspired you? Has this person influenced the course of your life?

*A People's History is available in full and for free by clicking this link.
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