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One of America's most respected political activists and thinkers, Howard Zinn was born on December 7, 1922, in a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Zinn's political consciousness was awakened when he served as a fighter pilot during World War II; after the war, Zinn attended college under the G.I Bill and received a master's degree in history from Columbia University. Zinn took a position as a professor at Spelman College, a school for African-American women in Georgia, in 1956. Zinn became an active participant in the burgeoning civil rights movement that was emerging in Atlanta, and became an advisor to the influential activist group the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
In 1963, Zinn's activism on behalf of civil rights and against the Vietnam War resulted in his being fired from Spelman; Boston University added Zinn to their faculty, where he would remain until he retired from education. Zinn would later became a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bologna. A prolific author, in 1980 Zinn published A People's History of the United States, a look at American history from the point of view of the disenfranchised, which would go on to sell over a million copies; he's also been a frequent contributor to a number of magazines, and has written a number of plays on radical political figures in history. Zinn is also a frequent speaker at colleges and on radio, and several recordings of his talks have been released through the leftist publishing house AK Press.