The Summer 2017 issue of Bostonia, the Boston University alumni magazine, features a profile of Zinn Education Project co-founder William Holtzman and the recent book drive undertaken in response to a proposed Zinn book ban in Arkansas.
Hundreds of Arkansas teachers now own new copies of books by historian and longtime BU professor Howard Zinn—thanks in part to BU alums who took action against an effort to ban Zinn’s writings from their classrooms.
This spring, Republican state representative Kim Hendren filed a bill in the Arkansas House to prohibit the state’s public schools from including materials by or about Zinn in their curricula. Hendren told media outlets that he was not personally opposed to Zinn’s writings but that some of his constituents had raised concerns about Zinn’s approach to American history.
Zinn, who died in 2010, taught in the College of Arts & Sciences political science department from 1964 to 1988. His best-known and sometimes controversial book, A People’s History of the United States, tells the American story from the perspective of women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrant laborers, and others who are often underrepresented in traditional textbooks.
The Arkansas bill died in committee, but not before it drew the attention of the Zinn Education Project (ZEP), a nonprofit that offers teaching materials to help middle and high school teachers present Zinn’s brand of history in their classrooms. After hearing of the Arkansas legislation, ZEP offered to send a book by Zinn and a teaching guide, A People’s History for the Classroom, to any Arkansas teacher who requested them.