Famous historian makes stop at USF tonight

It has taken about two years to get one of the United States’ most respected historians, Howard Zinn, to speak on USF’s campus.

Tonight, the wait is over.

“We have been very persistent trying to get Dr. Zinn in to speak at USF; he is very much in demand,” said Sean Kinane, former chair of the Alliance for Concerned Students. “This will be his first appearance in Florida in three to four years and many people from all over are coming to see him speak.”

Zinn, who has written books used in university classrooms across the country, will be discussing his extensive political background as a passionate activist for radical change and students’ critical need to understand history.

In addition to the book, Zinn has also written several essays and plays that have attracted a steady following of loyal fans.

“We decided to bring (Zinn) in because his book, The People of the United States, is used on campus and he will bring an interesting perspective about history, especially because he lived through the civil rights movement,” said University Lecture Series Chair Michael Crump.

Zinn grew up in a working-class family from Brooklyn and later fought in World War II as an Air Force bombardier. He holds a doctorate from Columbia University and led anti-Vietnam war protests with prominent figures such as Alice Walker and Marian Wright Edelman of the civil rights movement.

Zinn has been imprisoned for civil disobedience, has testified in his friend Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers trial and fights for open debates in universities. Zinn is also the subject of a new documentary film, You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times.

Currently, he is a professor emeritus at Boston University.

Kinane said he believes the reason Zinn is so well known is because his perspective on history is not typical.

“Usually, the history we are taught in classrooms is controlled by who is in charge, but his point of view is of the people, and a lot of USF students will identify with that,” Kinane said.

Zinn’s visit to USF is hosted by the ULS, the Alliance of Concerned Students, the Honors College and Tampa’s Food Not Bombs organization. Zinn’s lecture will be at the Special Events Center at 7.