Arkansas Legislator Pushes to Ban Books by historian Howard Zinn’s from Public Schools

by Mickey Huff
Published: Last Updated on

In March of 2017, Arkansas Representative Kim Hendren introduced House Bill 1834 to the state assembly which sought to ban any works written by, or relating to, historian Howard Zinn. The bill is entitled “An Act to Prohibit a Public School District or Open-Enrollment Public Charter School from Including in its Curriculum or Course Materials for a Program of Study Books or Any Other Material Authored by or Concerning Howard Zinn; And for Other Purposes.” The bill states any book authored by Zinn between 1959 and 2010 would be prohibited by public school districts, as would any work that concerns the historian—which could be interpreted as a ban on any work that cites Zinn as well.

The attempt to censor Zinn’s work promotes the whitewashing of American history, which is not a new phenomenon. In 2010 Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels tried to ban Zinn’s books as well. In fact, A People’s History of the United States, perhaps Zinn’s most widely-read book, has already been removed from schools in Tucson, Arizona.3 The censorship of Zinn’s works represents a concerted and longstanding effort to censor the actual history of the United States in order to advance highly nationalistic, and often inaccurate, version. As a result of the proposed bill, more than 700 teachers and school librarians have requested Zinn’s books and the Zinn Education Project has been filling these orders free of cost.

Corporate news coverage of this story has been scant. As of April of 2017, the only corporate news outlet to cover the Arkansas bill beyond local publications like the Arkansas Times was the Huffington Post, which made a point to note that Zinn’s work is considered “radical” even by the most liberal in academia. Alternative news sources, however, gave the story a good deal of coverage and pointed to the fact that this bill would a great disservice to Arkansas students and sets a dangerous precedent of censoring alternative historical narratives, no matter how much they are based on factual evidence.

Sources:

“Arkansas Bill Attempts to Ban Books by Zinn in Schools,” Teaching for Change, March  3, 2017,

Andrea Germanos, “Arkansas Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Ban Howard Zinn from Classrooms,” CommonDreams, March 3, 2017, 

Rebecca Shapiro, “Arkansas Lawmaker Introduces Bill Banning Howard Zinn’s Books,” Huffington Post, March 6, 2017,

Larry Rubin, “Arkansas might ban books by Howard Zinn.” People’s World, March 15, 2017, 

Student Researcher: Cory Kris, Diablo Valley College

Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff, Diablo Valley College