April 2, 2014
The Frederic Ewen Academic Freedom Center at New York University’s Tamiment Library in collaboration with The Nation presents a day-long symposium, “Howard Zinn: A Lifetime of Teaching, Writing and Activism,” on Thursday, April 24, 2014, beginning at 9am, in Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South, between MacDougal and Sullivan Streets, NYC. (Subways A,C,D,E, and F lines).
The Tamiment Library is home to the Howard Zinn Papers, containing personal correspondence, school and military records, datebooks, biographical articles and interviews. Acquired in 2010-2011, the Zinn papers also contain posters, photographs, annotated books, publications of many kinds, and audio and video materials documenting lectures, interviews, discussions, readings, and other public events in which Zinn took part.
Timothy Naftali, head of Tamiment Library and director of the Ewen Center, says, “Howard Zinn’s papers provide an irreplaceable window onto the ideas, controversies and personal interactions that made Zinn such an influential figure on the American scene. The symposium marks the recent opening of the papers by taking a fresh look at this multifaceted life and career.”
The daylong symposium comprises four panels of experts, each discussing a different aspect of Zinn’s work. The Symposium was organized by Naftali together with NYU’s Marilyn Young and Robert Cohen, and is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Kurz Family Foundation.
The first panel, “Zinn at Tamiment,” led by Robert Cohen, Professor of History and Social Studies, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, illustrates the value of the Zinn papers by highlighting new work done by NYU students with commentary by Frances Fox Piven.
“Zinn as Historian,” led by Timothy Naftali, historian and head of the Tamiment Library and featuring historian Michael Kazin , examines Zinn’s contributions to scholarship and to public understanding of US history, including a discussion of his seminal book, A People’s History of the United States.
“Zinn as Activist,” led by Marilyn Young, Professor of History, NYU and featuring Alice Walker, author, activist, and former student of Zinn’s, examines his political activism in, among others, the civil rights and anti-war movements.
The last panel of the day, “Teaching Zinn,” moderated by Carl Mirra, and featuring Julian Hipkins, U.S. history teacher at Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, DC, will look at how Zinn’s writings and activism are used in curricula across the country.
Symposium Agenda: “Howard Zinn: A Lifetime of Teaching, Writing and Activism”
All Symposium events take place in Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Washington Square South, NYC
About Howard Zinn1:
Howard Zinn grew up in Brooklyn in a working-class, immigrant household. At 18 he became a shipyard worker and three years later joined the Air Force, flying bomber missions during World War II. He is the author of A People’s History of the United States (1980), a best seller that inspired a generation of high school and college students to rethink American history.
He earned a B.A. at New York University and master’s and doctoral degrees at Columbia University. In 1956 he went to Spelman College, a historically black women’s college, as chairman of the history department and as an advisor to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Among his students were Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; Alice Walker, the author; and the singer and composer Bernice Johnson Reagon. He was fired from Spelman, but returned in 2005 to give the commencement address.
Zinn moved to Boston University (BU) in 1964, and produced the antiwar books Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal (1967) and Disobedience and Democracy (1968). Zinn led antiwar protests, went to Vietnam with Daniel Berrigan, and testified in Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers trial. His politically engaged life brought him into many arenas: imprisonment for civil disobedience, fights for open debate in universities, and activist work from the Vietnam era to the present. Zinn retired from BU in 1988.
Zinn also wrote three plays: “Daughter of Venus,” “Marx in Soho” and “Emma,” about the life of the anarchist Emma Goldman. All three have been produced. His last article was a rather bleak assessment of President Obama for The Nation. “I’ve been searching hard for a highlight,” he wrote.
Few historians have been as successful as Zinn in influencing popular culture. He received an admiring mention in the movie “Good Will Hunting;” Matt Damon appeared in a History Channel documentary about him; and Bruce Springsteen said the starkest of his many albums, “Nebraska,” drew inspiration in part from Zinn’s writings.
About Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University:
Established at NYU in 1963, Tamiment Library is a leading national center for studying the history of radical politics: socialism, communism, anarchism, utopian experiments, the cultural left, the New Left, and the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties. It is the repository of the Archives of Irish America, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and a growing Asian American labor collection.
In 1977 the Robert F. Wagner Archives was established as a joint program of the New York City Central Labor Council and the Tamiment Library. The Wagner is the designated repository for the records of the Council's more than 200 member unions. Its extraordinary research collection documents the history of organized labor in New York and the workers who built the City.
NYU Libraries comprises nine libraries in Manhattan and one each in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, houses more than four million volumes and received three million visits last year. Around the world the Libraries offers access to more than 900,000 electronic journals, books, and databases; its website received 3.5 million visits last year. For more information about the NYU Libraries, please visit http://library.nyu.edu.
1 Adapted from NY Times, “Howard Zinn, Historian, Is Dead at 87,” by Michael Powell, 1/28/2010
Type: Press Release
Press Contact: Christopher James | (212) 998-6876