In the News

Banning Howard Zinn’s Books Is Hardly a Way to “Start a Conversation”

Published on March 2, 2017 in
On March 2, 2017, the Arkansas Times revealed that Republican State Rep. Kim Hendren had introduced a bill intended to outlaw the teaching of “books or any other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn” in Arkansas public schools. Zinn, a historian who passed away in 2010, is best known for his work, A People’s History of the United States, which tells the American narrative from the perspective of the historically downtrodden, those swept under the rug in the myth of “American exceptionalism.” It is understandable, then, why a politician like Hendren would desire to limit student access to Zinn’s work in Arkansas schools. The historian’s ideas are, after all, intended to challenge precisely the orthodoxies that the Republican Party (in particular) wants to maintain.
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Support Indigenous Rights By Abolishing Columbus Day

Published on October 6, 2016 in
Deborah Menkart, Teaching For Change/Zinn Education Project & Daniel Ruiz, Capital City Public Charter School, joins Thom Hartmann. On Monday — millions of Americans will stay home from work and school to celebrate how Christopher Columbus committed genocide against the Taino people and launched the Transatlantic slave trade. Unfortunately — many Americans won't know that it's a celebration of genocide — because many Americans still don't realize what actually happened when Columbus quote "discovered” America. Fortunately, there are efforts moving forward across the country to celebrate "Indigenous People’s Day" instead of Columbus Day — with Phoenix, Arizona being the most recent city to recognize Indigenous People's Day.
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How American oligarchs created the concept of race to divide and conquer the poor

Published on April 19, 2016 in
While teaching U.S. history at a public charter high school in the District, Julian Hipkins III noticed that students tended to assume that “race” was as old as mankind. “Almost like it was natural, a given,” as he put it. So, using some specialized lessons, Hipkins helped the students explore the invention of race and the reasons for it, as laid out in colonial law. Especially the Virginia slave codes enacted between 1640 and 1705.  
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How a Nearly Successful Slave Revolt Was Intentionally Lost to History

Published on January 8, 2016 in

By Marissa Fessenden

More than 500 slaves fought for their freedom in this oft-overlooked rebellion

Two hundred and five years ago, on the night of January 8, 1811, more than 500 enslaved people took up arms in one of the largest slave rebellions in U.S. history. They carried cane knives (used to harvest sugar cane), hoes, clubs and some guns as they marched toward New Orleans chanting “Freedom or Death,” writes Leon A. Waters for the Zinn Education Project. The uprising began on the grounds of a plantation owned by Manuel Andry on the east side of the Mississippi, in a region called the German Coast of Louisiana. There, a slave driver named Charles Deslondes of Haitian decscent, led a small band of slaves into the mansion of the plantation owners, where they wounded Andry and killed his son Gilbert. The group then armed themselves with muskets and ammunition from the plantation's basement. Some donned Andry’s militia uniforms.
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Choosing an Alternative to Honoring Christopher Columbus

Published on October 13, 2015 in
It’s old news, so to speak, about Christopher Columbus. The Genoese explorer received his commission and subsidy from the Spanish monarchs who also brought the Inquisition to Castile and Aragón—as well as to Spanish possessions ranging from the Netherlands and Naples, the Canary Islands, and after Columbus, the Americas as well. As a result of his explorations of the new world, nations of Native Americans were slaughtered with impunity, wiped out, erased from their lands. Bill Bigelow, the curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools and the co-director of the much admired Zinn Education Project, writes on Common Dreams about the greater heritage of Columbus’s voyages—the introduction of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as well as the unleashing of “complete genocide” on the Taínos he encountered in the “New World.” He also notes the relatively consistent manner of presentation Columbus gets in American history books that recounts his enslavement and killing of Taínos in a manner that can do nothing but lead children to think that the lives of the Taínos didn’t—or don’t—matter.
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As Cities Give Columbus the Boot, Indigenous Peoples’ Day Spreads Across US

Published on October 12, 2015 in
As Bill Bigelow, educator, curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools, and the co-director of the Zinn Education Project, wrote at Common Dreams last week. "If Indigenous peoples' lives mattered in our society, and if Black people's lives mattered in our society, it would be inconceivable that we would honor the father of the slave trade with a national holiday."  
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More cities celebrating ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ amid effort to abolish Columbus Day

Published on October 12, 2015 in
In a blog post published by the Huffington Post, Bill Bigelow, co-director of the Zinn Education Project, which “promotes and supports the teaching of people’s history in middle and high school classrooms across the country,” explained why many historians and indigenous communities find Columbus’s legacy so troubling. “Columbus initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in early February 1494, first sending several dozen enslaved Taínos to Spain,” Bigelow wrote. The following year, Columbus ramped up his attempt at making slavery a profitable enterprise, by rounding up 1,600 Taínos, sending the “best” 550 of those to Spain and telling his fellow colonialists they were free to take whoever remained.
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Republican congressman suggests Columbus discovered the US

Published on October 12, 2015 in
And the time has come to change the tide, says Zinn Education Project co-director Bill Bigelow, who argued in an article last week that from the very onset, Columbus set out on a mission to conquer and exploit—not to discover—and should be remembered in history for starting the trans-Atlantic slave trade, as well as the first terrorist in the Americas. “Enough already. Especially now, when the Black Lives Matter movement prompts us to look deeply into each nook and cranny of social life to ask whether our practices affirm the worth of every human being, it’s time to rethink Columbus, and to abandon the holiday that celebrates his crimes,” he wrote.
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