Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Film. By Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller. 2010. 78 minutes.
Documentary on life and work of Howard Zinn.

  • Time Periods: Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000, 20th Century | Themes: Labor, Organizing, Social Class, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: Adult, High School | Resource Types: Films

cant-be-neutral-zinn-dvdThis is a documentary on the life of Howard Zinn — noted author, historian and social activist. Zinn authored numerous books on U.S. history including the classic A People’s History of the United States. The film weaves archival footage with interviews with Alice Walker, Daniel Berrigan, Noam Chomsky, and others.

The film provides great background information for teachers on the life and activism of Howard Zinn in the civil rights, anti-war, and free speech movements. Clips could be used in the classroom to introduce specific historic events.

Narrated by Matt Damon with music by Pearl Jam, Woody Guthrie & Billy Bragg. Closed captioned.

Produced by First Run Features.

 

“With narration taken entirely from Zinn’s own writing, read by actor Matt Damon, filmmakers Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller skillfully capture the spirit of Zinn’s life work.” — Link TV

“Thoughtful, exciting, moving.” —Christian Science Monitor

“Finally, a documentary about one of America’s most important academics.” —San Francisco Chronicle

Film Clips

In the scene below from the film, Howard Zinn discusses how Woody Guthrie’s song “The Ludlow Massacre” led him to investigate this event for himself.

Below is a clip from the film on Howard Zinn’s views on non-violence and civil disobedience.

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