Maybe social activists should have some sort of belt system, like for Tae Kwon Do (this list came from North Austin Tae Kwon Do).
Yellow Belt – The color yellow signifies the earth. The beginning student begins to create a firm foundation in Tae Kwon Do technique, just as a seed begins to expand its root system deep in the earth as it begins to grow.
Black – The opposite of white signifies maturity and dignity, as that of a senior student of Tae Kwon Do who has learned the basic curriculum of Tae Kwon Do and is ready to become a true student of Tae Kwon Do.
We don't need much modification. So, perhaps Howard Zinn is a black belt. Maybe I'm still fighting my way up towards a green belt.