Susan Eaton writes: In the summer of 1963, historian Howard Zinn opened a letter from Albert Manley, president of Spelman College in Atlanta, where Zinn was a tenured professor. Manley told Zinn he was fired. Everyone at Spelman knew that Manley disapproved of Zinn’s support of students protesting curfews and other restrictions at the historically black women’s college. Zinn also often joined students demonstrating against racial segregation. Years later, the American Association of University Professors ruled that Manley had violated Zinn’s academic freedom. By that time Zinn was teaching at Boston University, where he would write the bestselling A People’s History of the United States. This past November, Zinn, now 82, found another letter from Spelman in his mailbox. “Spelman College wishes to bestow upon you…an honorary degree,” wrote president Beverly Daniel Tatum. “We would like to honor your distinguished career and your extraordinary example of leadership, activism and social responsibility.” In a handwritten note, Tatum added: “It would be wonderful to bestow this long overdue honor.” On May 15 Zinn delivered the commencement address at Spelman. His subject: “Against Discouragement.” In his 1994 memoir Zinn writes: “I keep encountering people who, in spite of all the evidence of terrible things happening everywhere, give me hope.”
EYES ON THE PRIZES
We have been notified that The Nation has won one of the American Bar Association’s annual Silver Gavel magazine awards for our special issue “Brown at 50” (May 3, 2004), honoring the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the historic decision killing “separate but equal.” We’ve also learned that Russell Jacoby’s “The New PC: Crybaby Conservatives” (April 4) has won a Project Censored award. These go to the year’s twenty-five most important underreported news stories. Project Censored is based at Sonoma State University.