Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 — January 27, 2010) was an American historian, author, playwright, and social activist. He was a political science professor at Boston University for 24 years and taught history at Spelman College for 7 years. His books:

Zinn wrote more than 20 books, including his best-selling and influential A People’s History of the United States. He wrote extensively about the civil rights and anti-war movements, and labor history of the United States. His memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn’s life and work.

The People Speak, released in 2010, is a documentary movie inspired by the lives of ordinary people who fought back against oppressive conditions over the course of the history of the United States. The film includes performances by Zinn, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Viggo Mortensen, Josh Brolin, Danny Glover, Marisa Tomei, Don Cheadle, and Sandra Oh.

In Noam Chomsky’s view, The Logic of Withdrawal was Zinn’s most important book. “He was the first person to say—loudly, publicly, very persuasively—that this simply has to stop; we should get out, period, no conditions; we have no right to be there; it’s an act of aggression; pull out. It was so surprising at the time that there wasn’t even a review of the book. In fact, he asked me if I would review it in Ramparts just so that people would know about the book.”

Actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who grew up near Zinn and were family friends, gave A People’s History a plug in their Academy Award-winning screenplay for Good Will Hunting (1997).

In 2002 punkrock record label Alternative Tentacles, released Apocalypse Always!, a compilation CD featuring many punk rock bands as well as a spoken word track by Howard Zinn.
The Pearl Jam song “Down” from the album Lost Dogs was inspired by the band’s friendship with Zinn.[citation needed] In the March 13, 2010, episode of Saturday Night Live, lead singer Eddie Vedder’s guitar sports a sticker reading “ZINN”. The band dedicated a performance of their song “Undone” as a tribute to Zinn during their 5/17/10 concert at TD Garden in Boston, MA. A tribute to Howard Zinn’s wife, Roslyn, was prominently featured in the tour program for Eddie Vedder’s solo tour of 2008.
Musician Bruce Springsteen’s bleak album Nebraska was inspired in part by A People’s History.
In the System Of A Down song “Deer Dance”, about police brutality against peaceful protest, Zinn is paraphrased in the line “We can’t afford to be neutral on a moving train” and in their song “AD.D” from their album Steal This Album!: “There is no flag large enough, to hide the shame of a man in cuffs.”
Viggo Mortensen and Buckethead used snippets of one of Zinn’s speeches in the song “What Kind of Nation” from their album Intelligence Failure.
The song Franco Un-American, off the 2003 album The War on Errorism by American punk rock band NOFX, references lead singer Fat Mike reading Howard Zinn as part of learning more about the world.
Lupe Fiasco samples part of Howard Zinn’s speech “War and Social Justice” on the Introduction track of his 2011 mixtape “Friend of the People: I Fight Evil”
Rapper Vinnie Paz, samples quotes from Howard Zinn’s speech; “You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train” on his album released in 2012; God of the Serengeti on the track of the same name.

Image By Jim from Stevens Point, WI, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons