Who was Tom Hayden?
Thomas Emmet Hayden was a social reformer, non-fiction writer, political activist, and politician from America. Considered the most important radical figure of the 1960s America, he was a prominent participant in the protests against the Vietnam War and in the civil rights movement. A Michigan native, Hayden developed anti-religious and anti-authoritarian views quite early in his life due to his upbringing. He graduated from the University of Michigan, where he was involved in student politics. In 1962, he co-authored the Port Huron Statement, a manifesto of the influential leftist student activist group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), of which he was one of the initiators. He was one of the seven individuals to stand trial in 1968 on the charges of inciting riots and anti-war and counterculture protests in Chicago. For the most part of his life, Hayden worked in academia and was affiliated as a professor with several schools. As a politician, he held seats in both the California Assembly and California Senate.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on December 11, 1939, in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA, Tom Hayden was the son of Genevieve Isabelle (née Garity) and John Francis Hayden. A US Marine turned accountant, his father was an abusive drunkard. His mother brought him up on her own after she divorced his father when Hayden was ten years old.
His distaste for organised religions originated from his experience with the leader of his church, Catholic priest Charles Coughlin, who was a known anti-Semite.
After graduating from Dondero High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, he enrolled at the University of Michigan. It was there that he became part of SDS as one of its earliest members and from 1962 to 1963, served as its president.
He was also highly active as a writer during his college years. He had been the editor of his high school newspaper and was serving as the editor of the ‘Michigan Daily.’
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Between 1982 and 1992, Tom Hayden, a Democrat, was elected five times to the California State Assembly. He subsequently held a California State Senate seat for eight years (1992-2000). In 1997, he launched a mayoral campaign in Los Angeles, but the voters re-elected incumbent Republican Richard Riordan.
He was an ardent supporter of animal rights. In February 1998, he introduced Hayden Act as Senate Bill 1785, which expanded the minimum impound time of pets. In the final years of his life, he served as the director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Los Angeles County.
Academia & Writings
Tom Hayden was predominantly associated with Scripps College and Pitzer College, teaching a number of courses on social movements. He also served as a professor at Occidental College, Harvard University's Institute of Politics, and the University of California.
Hayden made his debut as an author with ‘The Port Huron Statement’ in 1962. Some of his other literary works are ‘The Other Side’ (1966), ‘Reunion: A Memoir’ (1988), ‘The Zapatista Reader’ (2002), and ‘Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement’ (2017).
Family & Personal Life
Tom Hayden had been married three times. His first wife was civil rights activist Sandra "Casey" Cason, whom he married in 1961. A year later, they divorced.
On January 19, 1973, he exchanged wedding vows with actress and social activist Jane Fonda. Their son, actor Troy Garity, was born on July 7, 1973. They also informally adopted social activist Mary Williams (born 1967) in 1982. Hayden and Fonda divorced on June 10, 1990.
His third wife was actress Barbara Williams, who he married on August 8, 1993. They adopted a son together, named Liam (born 2000).
Hayden passed away on October 23, 2016, in Santa Monica, California, after a prolonged battle with an illness. He was 76 years old at the time.
In the 2000 biographical drama ‘Steal This Movie’, his son, Troy, portrayed him on screen.