February 14, 2010
My malady has reduced my finger dexterity to the point that I virtually don’t use my computer keyboard anymore. Instead I use a voice activated “naturally speaking” program. My wireless microphone broke the other day so I had to order a new one.
Howard Zinn died while I was waiting for my new microphone. Even though several weeks have passed by since his death, I still feel the need to write a few words of tribute and comment on his life.
He was a hero to me. I have been in a room only a few times with a person I knew had been “sprinkled” with something special. Something more than charisma. Daniel Berrigan and Cesar Chavez were two. So was Howard Zinn.
Everyone should read “A People’s History of the United States.” I read his book my freshman year and it had a profound impact on me. I probably would have become a college history teacher if I thought I could have come close to measuring up to him. Instead I took the easy way and went to law school.
In the last piece of his I read he chided the media for how little it discussed the racial component of many people’s reaction to the Obama administration. He correctly pointed out that if a black guy had flaunted his second amendment constitutional right to bear arms by strapping a gun to his leg at a President Reagan rally as was done at several Obama events, the Secret Service would have hauled the person away without even a public whisper… not to mention what was done to the Panthers when they attempted to bear arms and protect the black community in Oakland because they believed that the Oakland city police was doing an unacceptable job of keeping the black neighborhoods safe.
You lived a good life Howard and you taught me I was just taking up space if I wasn’t trying to help people who needed it.