Tag Archives: Marian Wright Edelman

Happy Birthday, Howard Zinn

24 Aug

Howard_Zinn-Anniversary-2Howard Zinn would have been 92 years old today. Zinn passed away on January 27, 2010.  I remember listening to NPR and crying my eyes out. Zinn has been one of my heroes since I first read his People’s History of the United States in 1987.  Zinn has had such a powerful impact on my life that I would actually say he is, in part, why this blog exist and why I try to work towards global equity and equality.

Zinn was from a Jewish Austrian-Hungarian immigrant family.  He fought in WWII as a bombadier to try and end fascism.  His experience in the war influenced his anti-war stance. Zinn reflects on what some refer to as “collateral damage” and many of us call the loss of so many civilian lives in war:

I recalled flying on that mission, too, as deputy lead bombardier, and that we did not aim specifically at the ‘Skoda works’ (which I would have noted, because it was the one target in Czechoslovakia I had read about) but dropped our bombs, without much precision, on the city of Pilsen. Two Czech citizens who lived in Pilsen at the time told me, recently, that several hundred people were killed in that raid (that is, Czechs)—not five.

Zinn also influenced my energy around trying to unpack racism, sexism, homophobia, and all of the intersections of how we target and marginalize people.  In 1963 Spelman College dismissed the then tenured Zinn from his teaching position for his activism with students in the struggle against segregation.  I love Spelman College and I suspect this was a very messy and difficult decision. I try to look at the level of risk for the college and balance that with the amazing work being done by Zinn and the students.  Two of his students in particular are also heroes of mine, Alice Walker and Marian Wright Edelman.

If there are a few of you who are not familiar with Howard Zinn, I strongly encourage you to read People’s History of the United States and watch the amazing documentary, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.  

Thank you, Howard Zinn and Happy Birthday! I can only imagine how the world could be a better place for all with his inspiration.

 

Celebrating Black History Month: February 25

25 Feb

A Voice of Social Justice

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Marian Wright Edelman. Edelman is probably best known for her work in the Civil Rights Movement and as the Founder of Children’s Defense Fund. Edelman was the first black woman admitted in the Mississippi Bar when she began practicing law for the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  Edelman has dedicated her life to issues around social justice, specifically in protecting and giving voice to youth. She helped to create the Head Start Program. Included in the many awards she has earned are: the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. In 2000, Edelman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Edelman has written eight books including, Agenda for Social Change and I Can Make a Difference. I hope I will be considered a great agent of change as we have in our Marian Wright Edelman.

A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back – but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.–Marian Wright Edelman

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