Monday, October 24, 2016

From the L.A. Times:
'The radical inside the system': Tom Hayden, protester-turned-politician, dies at 76

I don't remember where I first heard the name Tom Hayden, but he is one of those names that is going to come up sooner or later during any study of the student - movement.  Tom Hayden was the name most associated with SDS, and SDS was the organization most associated with the student movement.

Since I was very interested in this period of history, I became very interested in Tom Hayden and in his biography.
In retrospect (and it's taken me a few years to realize this) this habit of obsessing over the big names in popular movements is unhealthy.  The lifeblood of any popular movement is the rank-and-file members, and not the celebrity leaders.

And yet, we humans are drawn to biography.  We find personal stories more interesting than the events.  If there's a human face  to put onto a historical event, then that event becomes more interesting.

And so I became very interested in Tom Hayden's story, and have maintained that interest over the years.

Although this is probably of interest to no one but me, I'm going to do a quick run down here of some of my associations with Tom Hayden.

* In my 20th Century American History class at Calvin College, I remember my history professor gave a brief sketch of Tom Hayden's biography as part of her lecture on the student movement. (I was already familiar with Tom Hayden before this lecture, but I got some more information out of the lecture.)

* I talked about Tom Hayden in this paper I wrote on the Black Panthers.

* Calvin College library had Trial by Tom Hayden on its shelves back when I was a student, and I picked it up.  I don't now remember if I actually read the whole thing or just read parts of it.  The only thing I remember about it now is Tom Hayden pointing out the problems with male chauvinism in the movement.

* When the Abbie Hoffman biopic Steal This Movie came out in 2000, I saw that.  It wasn't the best movie, but Tom Hayden was portrayed in the movie by his own son, which was kind of cool.

* One of my friends in Japan (a fellow American) told me his mother had been a student with Tom Hayden at the University of Michigan, and had even gone on a date with Tom Hayden.

* In 2006 I picked up a copy of Tom Hayden's memoir Reunion at a used book sale.  I regret to say I never actually finished it.  (I'm terrible that way with books.  I never finish half of the books I pick up).  But I did at least read the first several chapters.

* In 2007 I included Tom Hayden on my list of biopics that I would like to see Hollywood make.

* In 2010 I saw, and reviewed on this blog Chicago 10, which portrayed Tom Hayden and the rest of the Chicago trial.  (Also, back in my college days, I saw the 1987 HBO docudrama Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8 when it was re-run on TV).

* I've linked to Tom Hayden's articles and speeches several times on this blog over the years: here, here and here.

* In April 2015, I tweeted a link to an article Tom Hayden had written about America's Legacy in Vietnam.
Tom Hayden responded by hitting "like" on my tweet.
Which I thought was kind of cool.
I mean, I know he only liked the tweet because I was tweeting out his article, but, whatever, it was still a neat little interaction.  It was still really cool to have "Tom Hayden likes your tweet" pop up in my notifications. (I guess he must have had some sort of alert system set up for when someone tweets one of his articles.)

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