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The Case of Sacco & Vanzetti

Program #ZINH018. Recorded in Boston, MA on October 09, 1997.

From Massachusetts to California, immigrants today are the target of government raids and deportations. A massive wall is being built between Mexico and the United States. Armed vigilantes, self-styled Minutemen, patrol the border. U.S. history has been marked by periodic outbursts of anti-immigrant racism fueled by jingoism. One notorious example was the case of the Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s. Their arrest and jailing on trumped up charges was informed not only by xenophobia but also a deep hostility to their dissident politics. Their trial, presided over by a blatantly prejudiced judge, was a travesty. The case sparked a huge national and international uproar but to no avail. They were electrocuted on August 23, 1927. To this day they are remembered in story and song all over the world. This program marks the 80th anniversary of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Recorded at Northeastern University.


Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, was perhaps this country's premier radical historian. He was born in Brooklyn in 1922. His parents, poor immigrants, were constantly moving to stay, as he once told me, "one step ahead of the landlord." After high school, he went to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During World War II, he saw combat duty as an air force bombardier. After the war, he went to Columbia University on the GI Bill. He taught at Spelman, the all black women's college in Atlanta. He was an active figure in the civil rights movement and served on the board of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was fired by Spelman for his activism. He was among the first to oppose U.S. aggression in Indochina. His book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was an instant classic. A principled opponent of imperialism and militarism, he was an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience. He spoke and marched against the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. His masterwork, A People's History of the United States, continues to sell in huge numbers. Among his many books are A Power Governments Cannot Suppress and Original Zinn with David Barsamian. Just before his death he completed his last great project, the documentary The People Speak. Always ready to lend a hand, he believed in and practiced solidarity. Witty, erudite, generous and loved, Howard Zinn, friend and teacher, passed away on January 27, 2010. His words inspire many the world over, "We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. To live now, as human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

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