You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

Howard Zinn

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0807071277

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States, tells his personal stories about more than thirty years of fighting for social change, from teaching at Spelman College to recent protests against war.

A former bombardier in WWII, Zinn emerged in the civil rights movement as a powerful voice for justice. Although he's a fierce critic, he gives us reason to hope that by learning from history and engaging politically, we can make a difference in the world.

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manager asked them to move; they showed the stubs of their tickets. He said the show would not go on unless they moved. They said they could wait. The other theatregoers were not making a fuss, they pointed out. Indeed, the whites occupying the seats near them had come to see a musical, not to fight the Civil War. The manager, much upset, went back to his office and phoned Mayor Hartsfield at home to tell him what was happening. Hartsfield thought a moment, then drawled, “The only suggestion I

Dragged off Federal Property as the FBI Looks On.” The Justice Department was not happy with my piece. The chief of its Civil Rights Division, Burke Marshall, wrote a long letter to the New Republic, saying that “litigation” was the proper remedy for what happened in Selma and that the Justice Department had two voting rights suits pending in Selma. He said there could be “no summary action.” (Marshall chose to ignore, as the FBI chief had done, the arrest powers of FBI agents, which could be

atrocity, with another kind of death march in Hiroshima, this time our atrocity, when dazed, burnt civilians, their flesh hanging, their eyeballs out of their sockets, their limbs torn from their bodies, walked in a stupor through the eerie remains of their flattened city under a drizzle of radioactive vapor. While I was a fellow at the Harvard Center for East Asian Studies in the fall of 1960 (on temporary leave from Spelman), I did some research on the dropping of the atomic bombs, and

muggers, but about high crime, about government officials and corporate executives whose victims were not individuals but the whole of society. It’s remarkable how much history there is in any small group. There was also at our table a young woman, a recent university graduate, who was entering nursing school so that she could be of use to villagers in Central America. I envied her. As one of the many who write, speak, teach, practice law, preach, whose contribution to society is so indirect, so

him. In the fall of 1967, Dan Berrigan’s brother, Phil Berrigan, once a soldier in World War II, now a priest, had staged a dramatic protest against the war. He and three other men had entered a draft office in Baltimore, removed draft records from the files, and poured blood over them to symbolize the destruction of life in Vietnam. They were arrested and sentenced to prison terms. But their action was to lead to others. Very soon after our return from Hanoi, Dan Berrigan was shaken by the

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