Tom Hayden: 5 Quick Facts About the Antiwar and Civil Rights Activist

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Tom Hayden: 5 Quick Facts About the Antiwar and Civil Rights Activist - Citizen Slant

Tom Hayden, an antiwar and civil rights icon, who burst into the limelight in the 1960’s counterculture passed away on Sunday at the age of 76.

Barbara Williams, his wife, confirmed his passing to The Associated Press. He had been suffering from heart problems and had fell ill while attending the Democratic National Convention in July.

Here are five important facts about the former California legislator:

1. Tom Emmet Hayden was born on December 11, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan to parents John and Genevieve. He lived with his mother after his parents divorced when he was 10 years old. However, he kept close with his father through regular fishing expeditions and trips to sporting events.

2. Hayden began thinking about pursuing a career as a foreign correspondent while he was a student at Dondero High School. However, that interest gave way to a new one — social reform — after he enrolled in University of Michigan. While in college, he became the co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society in 1961. He was arrested in Albany, Georgia, for attempting to desegregate a railway station.

While he was in jail, he began drafting the Port Huron Statement, which famously introduced the concept of ‘participatory democracy’ to a wider audience. He later became president of Students for a Democratic Society and also helped form the Economic Research and Action Project aimed at spurring civil rights progress.

3. In the mid-1960’s, Hayden worked for the Newark Community Union Project where he worked with inner city New Jersey residents. He also began traveling to Hanoi, Vietnam, in the thick of the Vietnam War.

He was arrested at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 as part of the ‘Chicago Seven’ defendants who were later convicted for conspiracy to incite violence but whose convictions were ultimately overturned.

4. Hayden was married three times. He was briefly married to activist Sandra ‘Casey’ Cason in his early 20’s. Many know of his second marriage as it was to the daughter of a legendary actor (Henry Fonda) and an iconic actress in her own right, Jane Fonda. The two married in 1973. That gave Hayden a much bigger platform for his political ambitions.

In addition to producing antiwar movies such as ‘Introduction to the Enemy,’ Hayden and Fonda tried to win over political support by giving speeches throughout the country. They also transformed their Santa Barbara ranch into an egalitarian children’s camp.

5. Hayden ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1976. He then formed the Campaign for Economic Democracy and became the chairman of the California SolarCal Council. He then ran for the California Senate in 1982 and served in that role for 10 years.

Hayden and Fonda divorced in 1990. Hayden married for the third time to Canadian actress Barbara Williams shortly after being elected to the California Senate in 1992. He ran unsuccessful campaigns for governor of California in 1994 and mayor of Los Angeles in 1997, and then failed in his attempt to win a spot on the Los Angeles City Council in 2001.

In his later years, the former California legislator focused  more on writing and was a regular contributor to publications such as ‘The New York Times’, ‘The Huffington Post’, and ‘The Nation.’

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