Target: Arkansas State Representative Kim Hendren
Goal: Don’t prohibit students from reading books by progressive author who challenged traditional narratives.
Lawmakers in Arkansas are considering a ban on Howard Zinn books in the state’s public and open-enrollment charter schools. Bill HB1384, introduced to the Arkansas State Legislature this week by Representative Kim Hendren, would ban all books and materials written by the late author and historian between 1959 and 2010. Zinn was best known for his book A People’s History of the United States, which examines national history from the perspective of poor, minority and underprivileged groups.
Other notable works of Zinn’s include The Other Civil War: Slavery and Struggle in Civil War America and A People’s History of American Empire. Zinn passed away in 2010, but throughout his career he was a radical liberal icon, passionate about looking at American history from the perspective of those who suffered through it. He once told The New York Times of the thought process behind writing A People’s History: “Our nation had gone through an awful lot — the Vietnam War, civil rights, Watergate — yet the textbooks offered the same fundamental nationalist glorification of country. I got the sense that people were hungry for a different, more honest take.”
The books most often banned from schools in the United States are those that take a more critical, realistic look at America’s past and values. Sign the petition to tell Arkansas lawmakers that Zinn’s work provides an important counterpoint to the traditional narrative of American history.
Dear Representative Hendren,
You recently introduced a bill to the Arkansas State Legislature calling for a ban on books written by historian Howard Zinn between 1959 and 2010 in your state’s public schools. Removing Mr. Zinn’s work, particularly A People’s History of the United States, from Arkansas classrooms will prevent students from learning American history in a well-rounded, comprehensive manner.
Mr. Zinn’s work aimed to examine United States history in an inclusive way, addressing how the events that shaped our nation affected those who were underprivileged and underrepresented. This perspective remains just as important today as it was when A People’s History was first published in 1980. To ban Mr. Zinn’s work from public schools is to suggest that American history should not be dissected and discussed as thoroughly as possible.
I urge you to remove Bill HB1384 from consideration in the Arkansas legislature. Refusing to allow public schools access to diverse viewpoints will do irreparable harm to the students of your state. Every student deserves the freedom to enrich their learning by considering material from a variety of perspectives, and your bill will deprive thousands of that opportunity.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Daniel Schwen