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Banned in Arkansas? ‘People’s History’ author Howard Zinn’s books are under fire.

Author Howard Zinn speaks as actress Marisa Tomei looks on during a discussion of the film “The People Speak” in 2008. Matt Sayles/AP/file

Why is Howard Zinn so hated?

Yet again, conservative critics of the late liberal Boston University professor are trying to make it hard for young people to read his work.

A Republican lawmaker in Arkansas has introduced a bill in the state legislature to prevent public schools from assigning books by Zinn, whose best known book, “A People’s History of the United States,” is a telling of American history from the perspective of the poor and marginalized.

The bill, the brainchild of state Representative Kim Hendren, would ban all books or articles authored by Zinn between the years of 1959 and 2010 in public schools and open-enrollment public charter schools.

Zinn, who died in 2010 at the age of 87, taught political science at BU from 1964 until his retirement in 1988. A longtime friend and neighbor of actor Matt Damon’s, Zinn was a hero of the political left. In 2009, the History Channel aired a documentary, “The People Speak,” featuring left-leaning music and movie stars reading Zinn’s words. The cast included Damon, Josh Brolin, Bruce Springsteen, Jasmine Guy, Bob Dylan, Sandra Oh, Lupe Fiasco, and Benjamin Bratt, among others.


Of course, the Arkansas bill isn’t the first to target Zinn. A few years ago, former Indiana governor and current Purdue University president Mitch Daniels tried to scrub Zinn’s works from syllabi of public universities, calling “A People’s History” a “truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.” His efforts failed.