As I sit at the desk of my small independent bookstore a mile from where he lived, and think of Howard Zinn, I cannot cast my eyes in any direction without signs of his presence here. Howard was my indefatigable supporter, as he was of all books and all bookstores. Without him, I never could have kept this store alive in its first years.
Last year, he spoke here after President Obama's election and I later published that talk as a "State of the Union." Howard has passed away on the day of President Obama's "State of the Union" and so, as I sit here, I think of his words that day.
A president should not be a Commander-in-Chief, "he should see himself as a Community-Organizer-in-Chief."
"Saviors will not do it. We cannot depend on the people on top to save us."
But most of all, "history shows that you have to build up. It takes time, and you must not get discouraged."
He was the Eugene Debs of our time, a monumental figure, walking the long road, collecting voices, and passing them down the line to those in most desperate need. There is no greater purpose to life than to protect that which darkness wishes to envelope, give it energy, and use it to act forcefully for what is right and beautiful in the world. Howard saw that potential in people and he shared it as few ever have, and we must carry this forward, and we shall.
The national book release for Howard Zinn's A Power Governments Cannot Suppress: