Tom Hayden, activist known for Vietnam protests, dies at 76
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA >> Tom Hayden, a ‘60s antiwar 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.