The Zinn Education Project was proud to co-sponsor the book launch on March 1, 2011, for The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself. The first consumer’s guide to whistleblowing, the Handbook was written by National Whistleblowers Center Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn. Last summer the Zinn Education Project produced a teaching guide for the film about the very famous whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. The Whistleblower’s Handbook will be a key resource for teachers who are motivated by the film and teaching guide to learn more about whistleblowing and/or who are inspired to become whistleblowers themselves.
The Zinn Education Project is named for Howard Zinn who had a personal connection to both Daniel Ellsberg and the National Whistleblowers Center. Zinn recognized the importance of putting the truth about the history of the Vietnam War on the public record, so he assisted Ellsberg in the disclosure of the Pentagon Papers. After ferrying the Pentagon Papers, Zinn continued his guiding role in the whistleblower movement. He was a teacher and mentor to Stephen M. Kohn and wrote a preface for Kohn’s Jailed for Peace: The History of American Draft Law Violators, 1658-1985. When Stephen Kohn, his brother Michael Kohn, and David Colapinto decided to form the National Whistleblowers Center, Zinn joined them (as did South African poet and activist Dennis Brutus). Zinn remained a board member of NWC for the remainder of his life, just as he supported whistleblowers throughout his professional life.
As Stephen Kohn said, “Howard Zinn’s writing, speaking and activism have inspired generations to desire peace, work for justice and shine the light of truth wherever it is needed.”
The book launch was held at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., with a standing room only audience. (Event photos.) The author was introduced by whistleblower Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo. She spoke of the importance of the National Whistleblowers Center in her own case as an EPA employee when she blew the whistle regarding the vanadium mines in South Africa. Stephen Kohn spoke about the history of whistleblowing in the United States, starting with a 1777 case involving sailors on the Warren. The conclusion of The Whistleblower’s Handbook describes how the whistleblowing sailors received support and protection from the newly formed U.S. government. Kohn looks forward to the day when those rights are accorded to citizens, including Bradley Manning, in the 21st century. In the meantime, The Whistleblower’s Handbook will be a vital resource for activists and their allies.