This Day in History

Aug. 24, 1922: Howard Zinn Born

Time Periods: Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944

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

The year 2022 will be the centennial of Howard Zinn’s birth. Let us know if you have any plans to commemorate the centennial — such as a public reading, a display at a library, a podcast episode, an op-ed or letter to the editor, a performance of one of Zinn’s plays, an art project, writing a poem, or a symposium on Zinn’s work. Share your plans or ideas with the Howard Zinn digital team.