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Howard Zinn

In: English and Literature

Submitted By vridings
Words 734
Pages 3
Valerie Ridings
Mr. Miroku Nemeth
English 1A
September 16, 2015

Howard Zinn: Civil Rights

Howard Zinn was an American historian, playwright, and social activist. He sometimes referred to himself as a Democratic Socialist. In Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States his main concern was that while the government made civil rights reforms they predominantly did so not out of human interest, but out of a need to reform their international image. Zinn further addresses that in-large part the United States government failed to enforce these new civil rights reforms.
With the events of the Civil Rights Movement, Zinn demonstrates the United States duplicity as early as the 1930s. In Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States he notes that while the nation denounced racism, it nevertheless “maintained segregation in the armed forces and kept blacks in low-paying jobs” (chapter 17). I think Zinn also goes to state in his book that the as the United States failed to adequately provide solutions to the race question, African Americans became increasingly aligned with Communist movements. With the volatile political climate of the late 1940s – the country had just survived World War II – it was essential that the nation demonstrate internationally that it was making a substantial stand against Communism. Zinn argues this started with African American ties to Communism. It follows that the United States government’s original motivation for enacting Civil Rights legislation was as a means of presenting a strong image abroad.
In response not to human rights, but to the need to improve the United States international image, he argues that the 1950s witnessed an increasing amount of Civil Rights legislation. One major piece of legislation passed during this period was the striking down of the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine. While it...

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