Longtime political activist and former lawmaker Tom Hayden, who rose from the counterculture movement of the late ’60s to become a California state legislator and an important player in progressive politics, has died.
The New York Times reports that Hayden, who was married to Jane Fonda from 1973-1990, died Sunday at 76. He had reportedly been dealing with heart problems, and fell ill back in July while he was at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
“During the racial unrest and antiwar protests of the ’60s and early ’70s, Mr. Hayden was one of the nation’s most visible radicals,” The Times reports. “He was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society, a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial after riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and a peace activist who married Jane Fonda, went to Hanoi and escorted American prisoners of war home from Vietnam.”
The report adds: “As a civil rights worker, he was beaten in Mississippi and jailed in Georgia. In his cell he began writing what became the Port Huron Statement, the political manifesto of S.D.S. and the New Left that envisioned an alliance of college students in a peaceful crusade to overcome what it called repressive government, corporate greed and racism. Its aim was to create a multiracial, egalitarian society.”
Hayden and Fonda traveled across Vietnam in 1974, as the war was nearing its final stages, conducting interviews with witnesses to the war and producing a controversial documentary, “Introduction to the Enemy.”
“Later, with the war over and the idealisms of the ’60s fading, Mr. Hayden settled into a new life as a family man, writer and mainstream politician,” The Times reports. “In 1976, he ran for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate from California, declaring, ‘The radicalism of the 1960s is fast becoming the common sense of the 1970s.’ He lost to the incumbent, Senator John V. Tunney.”
He was elected to the California Legislature in 1982, serving as an assemblyman for a decade and then as a state senator from 1993 to 2000.