By Jesse Gainer
This column is dedicated to the memory of Howard Zinn, who passed away this year at the age of 87. Zinn’s life and work — an unwavering pursuit of justice through focused attention on the marginalized and the oppressed — inspired countless people across the world. Zinn’s work highlighted what traditionally is not present in mainstream history texts, such as the voices and experiences of women, people of color, workers, and social activists. Readers of his work gain knowledge about historical figures and events that were not typically part of most people’s classroom experiences. However, the significance of his work is greater than the factual pieces of the puzzle he helped add to our historical narrative. His work points to a critique of larger systematic and structural inequities that lead to the privileging of a few and the oppression of many. His insistence on shining a light on unofficial history, or as he put it, the “people’s history,” is at the heart of what we call critical literacy.