Six hundred cheering students, faculty and staff, and area residents welcomed Tom Hayden to Port Huron, Michigan, for a college appearance last week, fifty years after the Students for a Democratic Society was founded at a vanished lakeside retreat outside the town.
The event was hosted by St. Claire County Community College philosophy professor Jim Soto, and included five classroom talks and an eventful search of the Lake Huron shore for any remains of the old camp, which belonged to the United Auto Workers.
As Hayden walked though the woods near the beach, he encountered a local man named Eddie Norman, who simply said, “I've been waiting for you.” Norman was standing inches deep in the water over the spot where he identified two aging pipes leading to the underwater foundations of the old camp. “You must be John the Baptist,” Hayden replied.
At the campus event later that evening, the audience roared its approval of posting a historical marker at the site. College president Kevin Pollock agreed to work with Soto and community leaders on implementing the project.
The culminating 2012 conference on the Port Huron Statement is planned for Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 31-November 2. For details, please see A New Insurgency: The Port Huron Statement - In Its Time and Ours.
A new book, Inspiring Participatory Democracy: Student Movements from Port Huron to Today, edited by Hayden and including original reflections by a dozen participants at the historic Port Huron convention will be published in September by Paradigm Publishers.