After over 50 years of activism, politics and writing, Tom Hayden is still a leading voice for ending the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, for erasing sweatshops, saving the environment, and reforming politics through a more participatory democracy. He was a leader of the student, civil rights, peace and environmental movements of the 1960s, and went on to serve 18 years in the California legislature, where he chaired labor, higher education and natural resources committees.
In addition to being a member of the editorial board and a columnist for The Nation magazine, Hayden is regularly published in the New York Times, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Denver Post, Harvard International Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post and other weekly alternatives. As Director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, California, he organizes, travels and speaks constantly against the current wars. He also recently drafted and lobbied successfully for Los Angeles and San Francisco ordinances to end all taxpayer subsidies for sweatshops.
The author and editor of twenty books, including the recently published "Inspiring Participatory Democracy: Student Movements from Port Huron to Today," Hayden describes himself as "an archeological dig." He has taught most recently at UCLA, Scripps College, Pitzer College, Occidental College, and the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Hayden, the batting champion of the Los Angeles Dodgers fantasy baseball camp in the 1980s, has lived in the Los Angeles area since 1971. He is married to the Canadian actress, singer and author Barbara Williams with whom he shares a son, Liam. Tom has two other children, now thriving adults, from an earlier marriage to the actress-activist Jane Fonda.
“Tom Hayden changed America,” writes Nicolas Lemann of The Atlantic. He created “the blueprint for the Great Society programs,” writes former presidential adviser Richard Goodwin. He was “the single greatest figure of the 1960s student movement,” according to a New York Times book review. During his time in Sacramento, he was described as “the conscience of the Senate” by the Sacramento Bee’s political analyst. The Nation magazine recently named him one of the 50 greatest progressives of the 20th century.
Hayden was a student editor at the University of Michigan, a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society in 1961, and author of its visionary call, the Port Huron Statement, described by Howard Zinn as "one of those historic documents which represents an era." As a Freedom Rider in the Deep South, Hayden was arrested and beaten in rural Georgia and Mississippi during the early Sixties. In 1964, Hayden worked as a door-to-door community organizer in the inner city of Newark, New Jersey, part of an effort to create a national poor people's campaign for jobs and empowerment.
When the Vietnam War invaded American lives, Hayden became an increasingly active opponent through teach-ins, demonstrations, writing and making one of the first trips to Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1965, to meet the other side and promote peace talks, journalistic contacts and facilitate American POW releases.
After helping lead street demonstrations against the war at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, where he was beaten, gassed and arrested twice, Hayden was indicted in 1969 with seven others on conspiracy and incitement charges. After five years of trials, appeals, and retrials, he was acquitted of all charges.
After the political system opened in the Seventies, Hayden organized the grass-roots Campaign for Economic Democracy in California, which won dozens of local offices and shut down a nuclear power plant through a referendum for the first time. The organization led the campaign for Proposition 65 (1986), requiring labels on cancer-causing products, and Proposition 99, tripling tobacco taxes to fund billions for public health and anti-tobacco initiatives.
Hayden was elected to the California state assembly in 1982, and the state senate ten years later, serving eighteen years in all. He ran as a protest candidate several other times, resulting in a won-loss record of 7-4. He also served twice on the Democratic Party's national platform committee. Altogether he attended ten Democratic national conventions, six times as a delegate. In 1996 and 2000, he was elected as a delegate by the largest caucus vote in California.
Despite serving under Republican governors for 16 of 18 years, and twice subjected to Republican-led expulsion hearings, Hayden managed to pass over one hundred measures. Included were:
- District bills obtaining millions for restoring Santa Monica Bay and the rebuilding of the Santa Monica and Malibu Piers;
- A ten-year effort to hold off tuition increases for college and university students;
- Establishment of a statewide Agent Orange registry;
- Negotiations between Bishop Desmond Tutu and the University of California leading to divestment;
- Ergonomic guidelines in purchasing;
- Equal university access for disabled students;
- Recruitment of gay and racial minority AIDs researchers at universities;
- Crane safety inspection programs;
- Back pay and fire safety protections for garment workers;
- Requirement of set-asides for renewable energy in state planning;
- Extension of sexual harassment codes to professional relationships;
- Blocking several governor's appointments to prison and university boards;
- Hearings into fertility clinic scandals leading to resignations;
- Prohibitions on date rape drugs;
- Saving Los Angeles' oldest cathedral from the wrecking ball;
- Limits on gifts and contributions to transit agency board members;
- Funding for student tutors in after-school programs;
- Funding for tattoo removal;
- Standards prohibiting MTBE in drinking water;
- Funding to rehabilitate Indian sacred springs in LA;
- Requirement for longer holding periods for lost animals in shelters;
- Sister state relationship between California and San Salvador;
- Reducing start-up fees for new small businesses;
- Requiring trigger locks on guns sold;
- Training for immigrant parents of public school children;
- Independent inspector-general at Los Angeles school district;
- Drafted largest state park and environmental restoration bond in nation's history;
- Minimum vision standards and testing for senior drivers;
- Disclosure of slavery era insurance policies by California firms;
- Prevented bills weakening state endangered species act;
- Pay raises for jurors;
- Children's health standards in state EPA;
- Funding for gang intervention projects.
For these and other efforts Hayden was named legislator of the year or given similar recognitions by the university and community college student lobbies, the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club, the Rainforest Action Network, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Association of Salvadorans in LA, the American Lung Association, Paw-PAC (animal welfare), the California public interest research group (Cal-Pirg), the Irish-American Unity Conference and the Liberty Hill Foundation.
- Listen Yankee! Why Cuba Matters (Seven Stories Press, 2015)
- Inspiring Participatory Democracy: Student Movements from Port Huron to Today (Paragidm, 2012)
- The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama (Paradigm, 2009)
- Voices of the Chicago 8: A Generation on Trial (City Lights, 2008)
- Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader (City Lights, 2008)
- Ending the War in Iraq (Akashic Books, 2007)
- Radical Nomad: C. Wright Mills and His Times (Paradigm, 2006)
- Street Wars: Gangs and the Future of Violence (New Press, 2006
- The Port Huron Statement: The Visionary Call of the 1960s Revolution (PublicAffairs, 2005)
- Rebel: A Personal History of the 1960s (Red Hen Press, 2003)
- Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish America (Verso, 2003)
- The Zapatista Reader (Nation Books, 2001)
- Irish Hunger: Personal Reflections on the Legacy of Famine (Roberts Rinehart, 1998)
- The Lost Gospel of the Earth: A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit and Politics (Ig, 1996)
- Reunion: A Memoir (Crowell-Collier Press, 1989)
- The American Future: New Visions Beyond Old Frontiers (South End Press, 1980)
- Vietnam: The Struggle for Peace 1972-1973 (Indochina Peace Campaign, 1973)
- The Love of Possession Is a Disease with Them Trial (Holt, Reinhart & Winston, 1972)
- Trial (Holt, Reinhart & Winston, 1970)
- Rebellion in Newark: Official Violence and Ghetto Response (Holt, Reinhart & Winston, 1970)
- The Other Side (Signet, 1967)