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Mon, 12.11.1939

Tom Hayden, Activist and State Politician born

Tom Hayden

*Tom Hayden was born on this date in 1939. He was a white-American social and political activist, author, and politician. 

Thomas Emmet Hayden was born in Royal Oak, Michigan, to parents of Irish ancestry, Genevieve Isabelle (née Garity) and John Francis Hayden. His father was a former Marine who worked for Chrysler as an accountant and was also a violent alcoholic. When Hayden was 10, his parents divorced, and his mother raised him. Hayden attended a Catholic elementary school, where he broke up with the Catholic Church as a teenager.

Hayden attended Dondero High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. He served as the school newspaper's editor, and in his farewell column in the newspaper, he used the first letter of successive paragraphs to spell "Go to hell ."As a result, when he graduated in 1956, he was banned from attending his graduation ceremony and only received a diploma.

Hayden then participated at the University of Michigan, where he was editor of the Michigan Daily. At the National Student Association convention in Minneapolis in August 1960, Hayden witnessed a dramatic intervention by Sandra Cason. To a standing ovation, she turned back a motion denying support for sit-ins in the struggle against racial segregation. Hayden soon followed her into the left-wing grouping. They married in October the following year.

He was beaten senseless by a white mob in McComb, Mississippi while covering the Freedom Rides for the National Student News; Hayden himself became a Freedom Rider.  On December 10, 1961, the Hayden's participated in one of the many "freedom rides" in response to the 1960 Boynton v. Virginia decision. It was from a prison cell in Albany, Georgia, where their ride was to land him, that Hayden began writing the SDS manifesto. Hayden was best known for authoring the Port Huron Statement and standing trial in the Chicago Seven case.

Writing about Hayden's role in the 1960s, Nicholas Lemann, national correspondent for The Atlantic, said that "Tom Hayden changed America," calling him "father to the largest mass protests in American history." Richard N. Goodwin, a speechwriter for presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy, said that Hayden, "without even knowing it, inspired the Great Society." Staughton Lynd was critical of the Port Huron and New Left concept of "participatory democracy." He stated, "We must recognize that when an organization grows to a certain size, consensus decision-making is no longer possible, and some form of representative government becomes necessary."

He was also married to actress and social activist Jane Fonda for 17 years and was the father of actor Troy Garity. Hayden lived in Los Angeles in 1971 and married his third wife, Barbara Williams, at his death. He and Williams adopted a son, Liam. Hayden ran for political office numerous times in later years, winning seats in the California Assembly and California Senate. At the end of his life, he was the Peace and Justice Resource Center director in Los Angeles County.

Tom Hayden died in Santa Monica, California, on October 23, 2016, aged 76, following a lengthy illness, including a stroke. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, California, where he was the first internment in "Eternal Meadow," an eco-friendly section.

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