A People’s History Stories

Howard Zinn has made me a better teacher not because he persuaded me to replace one historical narrative with another, but rather because he inspired me to add new stories to the curriculum that had been previously ignored. — Kyle Yamada, Eugene, Oregon, High School Social Studies Teacher  

For the Howard Zinn Centennial, share YOUR story of when you first read A People’s History of the United States or how you teach people’s history.

The right is saying that reading Zinn “makes students ashamed of their own history.” We find that reading people’s history actually makes students more interested in history and inspired to engage in shaping a more just future.

Share your story on social media with #HowardZinn100. If it is a teaching story, submit here and we may send you a book in appreciation.

Here are some stories we have collected to date.

I was introduced to Howard Zinn by accident. I turned on C-Span Book TV, and after a few minutes I found myself standing up, turning around, cursing, laughing, and just acting like a complete fool. I thought: “Who is this guy? Why is he not the president? Why have I never heard of this person?” I immediately went out and bought his book and my life as a teacher, as an American, and as a human was changed forever. — John Mistilis, Oxford, Mississippi, Social Studies Teacher

I read A People’s History of the United States when I was in grad school and felt like a fire was ignited in my brain. It totally shifted the way I viewed history (and society in general) and, of course, has been the foundation of the way I teach history today. I came to the Zinn Education Project website in search of new ways to light a similar fire in my students. —Tristan McCoy, High School Social Studies Teacher, San Diego, California

Howard Zinn made me want to teach. I owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude. We all do. — Ty J. Hathorn, Mobile, Alabama, 10th-Grade U.S. History Teacher

A People’s History of the United States‘ rocked my world and shifted my thinking forever. — Jacquelyn Davis

I use Howard Zinn’s seminal text, A People’s History of the United States, as well as resources from the Zinn Education Project because they engage students well. I appreciate that the Zinn text posits provocative ideas which facilitate student engagement and excite students to debate ideas. By focusing on many of the ordinary people through history, students connect to ideas of justice and a history they often feel speaks truth to them. Zinn’s critical thinking and analysis helps students feel motivated to learn more. —Joanna Morse, Middle and High School History Teacher, Greenfield, Massachusetts

I have been teaching history in Boston for 16 years, and I strive to teach my students that they have a voice and the power to take action. No text helps me do that more than Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and the supplementary materials provided through the Zinn Education Project. . . . One of my favorite moments using A People’s History came this year when we read about the beginning of differentiation between indentured servants and slaves after Bacon’s Rebellion. A student said, “If racism was purposefully created, it means that people can un-create it.” I couldn’t hope for a better realization, and it is for moments like these that I am excited to continue to use materials from the Zinn Education Project in my classroom. — Amy Piacitelli, High Social Studies Teacher, Boston, Massachusetts


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