Howard Zinn (1922-2010), among other talents, was an historian, social activist, author, and all-around great thinker. Recognizing that so many people and their life stories have been pushed to the margins of U.S. history, Zinn was consistently critical of society’s selective memory.
So why is society’s memory so selective? Why are only a few people identified as “heroes,” while others are designated as “victims” of history? Why are many of us told that our histories are insignificant or forgotten? Why are so many of us incapable of naming our great grandparents or describing their incredible accomplishments, including both heroism and survival?
If the memories of society were not controlled by a select few, the masses would be empowered by both strength and rage. If we all knew what our ancestors were capable of, we would see no limits to our own potential. And as Howard Zinn predicted, a revolution would not be far behind.
Let’s teach more of our young people about their histories in the classroom, including the names and stories of their own ancestors. Because the status quo is getting old – and it’s about time for that revolution to begin.