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Wednesday, May 29
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

Faculty caucus organizes anti-censorship read-in

The IU Progressive Faculty and Staff Caucus organized a read-in Tuesday to protest the Former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ attempted censorship of late historian Howard Zinn’s work.

Students, faculty and locals gathered in the Fine Arts building for a “Zinn-In,” in which excerpts from Zinn’s works were read out loud.

Five members of the caucus led the 50-minute session in professor Alex Lichtenstein’s American History II class.

Daniels, current president of Purdue University, tried to ban Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States,” in Indiana schools in 2010, calling it “anti-American.”

The Associated Press broke the news after obtaining several emails between Daniels and officials such as then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.

Daniels suggested discussion of Zinn’s work be banned from Indiana schools, but the legislation did not pass.

Tuesday’s read-in was organized to commemorate academic freedom and the legislation’s failure, according to a press release. Other Indiana universities such as Purdue and IUPUI organized similar events.

An abolitionist and bombardier in World War II, Zinn was an advisor to the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee at Spellman College in Atlanta, where he worked as a professor.

Isabel Piedmont-Smith, department administrator of the Department of French and Italian, read Zinn’s work at the read-in and said she has always been a fan of Zinn.

“It’s a tremendous contrast between what I had read in Zinn’s works and what most high school textbooks include or exclude,” she said.

She said Zinn’s book is a great way to supplement what standard history textbooks
provide.

Lichtenstein was the last one to read the text, reciting from “Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam.”

He finished with a profound line from Zinn’s work: “Patriotism may require opposing the government at certain times.”

Reverend Bill Breeden of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington provided the closing remarks for the read-in.

Breeden first met Zinn in 1981, and Zinn gave him a first edition copy of “A People’s History of the United States.”

The reverend said Zinn affirmed that an education means you learn how to think, not what to think,” Breeden said. “Howard Zinn is somewhere laughing his butt off. He knows that banning books doesn’t work. He knows that people always want to be free, and people always want to seek new knowledge.”

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