Tom Hay­den, ac­tivist known for Viet­nam protests, dies at 76

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By Linda Deutsch and Tarek Ha­mada

Tom Hay­den, a ‘60s anti-war ac­tivist whose name be­came for­ever linked with the cel­e­brated Chicago 7 trial, Viet­nam War protests and his ex-wife Jane Fonda, has died. He was 76.

He died on Sun­day af­ter a long ill­ness, said his wife, Bar­bara Wil­liams, not­ing that he suf­fered a stroke in 2015.

Hay­den, once de­nounced as a traitor by his de­trac­tors, won elec­tion to the Cal­i­for­nia As­sem­bly and Sen­ate where he served for al­most two decades as a pro­gres­sive force on such is­sues as the en­vi­ron­ment and ed­u­ca­tion. He was the only one of the rad­i­cal Chicago 7 de­fen­dants to win such dis­tinc­tion in the main­stream po­lit­i­cal world.

He re­mained an en­dur­ing voice against war and spent his later years as a pro­lific writer and lec­turer ad­vo­cat­ing for re­form of Amer­ica’s po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions.

Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti praised Hay­den. “A po­lit­i­cal gi­ant and dear friend has passed. Tom Hay­den fought harder for what he be­lieved than just about any­one I have known. RIP, Tom,” Garcetti said Sun­day night on his Twit­ter ac­count.

Hay­den wrote or edited 19 books, in­clud­ing “Re­u­nion,” a mem­oir of his path to protest and a ru­mi­na­tion on the po­lit­i­cal up­heavals of the ‘60s.

“Rarely, if ever, in Amer­i­can his­tory has a gen­er­a­tion be­gun with higher ideals and ex­pe­ri­enced greater trauma than those who lived fully the short time from 1960 to 1968,” he wrote.

Hay­den was there at the start. In 1960, while a stu­dent at the University of Michi­gan at Ann Ar­bor, he was in­volved in the for­ma­tion of Stu­dents for a Demo­cratic So­ci­ety (SDS), then ded­i­cated to de­seg­re­gat­ing the South. By 1962, when he be­gan draft­ing the land­mark Port Huron State­ment, SDS and Hay­den were ded­i­cated to chang­ing the world.

Hay­den was fond of com­par­ing the stu­dent move­ment that fol­lowed to the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion and the Civil War.

In 1968, he helped or­ga­nize anti-war demon­stra­tions dur­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Chicago that turned vi­o­lent and re­sulted in the no­to­ri­ous Chicago 7 trial. It be­gan as the Chicago 8 trial, but one de­fen­dant, Bobby Seale, was de­nied the lawyer of his choice, was bound and gagged by the judge and ul­ti­mately re­ceived a sep­a­rate trial.

Af­ter a cir­cus-like trial, Hay­den and three oth­ers were con­victed of cross­ing state lines to in­cite riot. The con­vic­tions were later over­turned, and an of­fi­cial re­port deemed the vi­o­lence “a po­lice riot.”

Thomas Em­met Hay­den was born Dec. 11, 1939, in Royal Oak, Michi­gan, to mid­dle-class par­ents. At Michi­gan, he took up po­lit­i­cal causes in­clud­ing the civil rights move­ment. He wrote fiery ed­i­to­ri­als for the cam­pus news­pa­per and con­tem­plated a ca­reer in jour­nal­ism. But upon grad­u­a­tion, he turned down a news­pa­per job. As he wrote in his mem­oir, “I didn’t want to re­port on the world; I wanted to change it.”


Po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist Tom Hay­den, hus­band of Jane Fonda, tells news­men in Los An­ge­les that he be­lieves pub­lic sup­port was par­tially responsible for the de­ci­sion not to send him and oth­ers of the Chicago 7 to jail for con­tempt on Dec. 6, 1973.

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