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Arkansas Lawmaker Tried To Ban Howard Zinn’s Books From Classrooms – And It Backfired

Apr 11, 2017

Last week nearly 700 Arkansas teachers and school librarians received copies of books by Howard Zinn—thanks to a right-wing state representative.

Well, not exactly. But here’s the story.

Recently, Republican Kim Hendren, introduced legislation that would prohibit teachers in all public schools or state-supported charter schools from including any books in their curriculum by—or even "concerning"—the historian Howard Zinn, author of the classic A People’s History of the United States, who died in 2010.

In response, the Zinn Education Project—a collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change, which I co-direct—offered to send free copies of a Howard Zinn book and A People’s History for the Classroom lessons to any Arkansas middle or high school teacher or school librarian requesting them.

In just a few days, we were flooded with requests. Many of them came accompanied by poignant notes about why people were eager to get the materials. One middle school librarian in Western Grove, Arkansas, near the Missouri border (population 373), wrote, "The proposed bill to ban Mr. Zinn’s book has fired up the Arkansas librarian world. To combat ignorance, I must have knowledge. I respectfully request a copy so I can educate my tiny corner of the world."

A high school teacher in El Dorado, Arkansas, in the far south, near Louisiana, wrote defiantly, "Books and ideas are increasingly under attack in Arkansas. We need to defend our rights and freedoms and be willing to look at history from multiple viewpoints. As Orwell wrote, freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4. Sometimes, speaking the truth is a revolutionary act. The truth will be taught in my classroom."

Donations to support the Zinn Education Project book giveaway poured in from across the country.

READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/04/03/arkansas-howard-zinn-witch-hunt-fizzles