As a historian and member of the Colorado Indymedia Collective, it seems I should be the one to write our obituary for Howard Zinn. I'm finding that hard to do. Howard was one of my childhood role models, one of the reasons I became a historian. His loss is, for me, a personal one.
We lost Howard yesterday. He died of a heart attack, at age 87, in Santa Monica, California. Howard was on the road, still working. He was in Santa Monica for an appearance at The Santa Monica Museum of Art, scheduled for February 4.
I don't think I have to list a lot of facts about who Howard was or the things he did. People who read Indymedia know him well. For anyone who wants to know more, or who wants to read something truly inspiring, I will recommend the book I've been recommending ever since it came out, Howard's 1994 autobiography, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train.
The best words to describe Howard are his own. So I will let him finish this article himself, by reprinting his own words.
The Optimism of Uncertainty
by HOWARD ZINN
[posted online on September 2, 2004 at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20040920/zinn]
In this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy?
I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world.