This Day in History

Aug. 24, 1922: Howard Zinn Born

Time Periods: 1920

I can understand pessimism, but I don’t believe in it. It’s not simply a matter of faith, but of historical evidence. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give hope, because for hope we don’t need certainty, only possibility. — Howard Zinn, Failure to Quit

Howard Zinn, born on August 24, 1922, was a historian, author, professor, playwright, and activist.

Best known for the best-selling book, A People’s History of the United States, Zinn wrote dozens of books on issues of race, class, war, history, and more.

Zinn touched the lives of countless people, including his students and activists around the world. He taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and collaborated with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

A number of projects that Zinn helped launch continue to bring people’s history to classrooms and the general public, including the Zinn Education Project, The People Speak, and Voices of a People’s History.

Read the 2012 tribute by Bill Bigelow, “Lessons from the People’s Historian.”

Learn more about Howard Zinn from the documentary You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train and visit

We recommend listening to Zinn in his own words. Here is he on Democracy Now! explaining the title of his autobiography,

2005 Democracy Now! interview with Howard Zinn (clip) from Zinn Education Project on Vimeo.