Tom Hayden biography
Born on December 11, 1939, in Royal Oak, Michigan, Tom Hayden became known as a radical anti-war and civil rights activist in the 1960s. Following his marriage to actress Jane Fonda, he served a combined 18 years in the California State Assembly and State Senate. Hayden has since continued to write for major publications and advance his ideals as director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center.
Thomas Emmet Hayden was born to parents Tom and Genevieve on December 11, 1939, in Royal Oak, Michigan. He continued to live with his mom after his parents divorced when he was 10, though he remained close to his dad through regular fishing expeditions and trips to sporting events. Hayden began thinking about a career as a foreign correspondent while a student at Dondero High School, but became more interested in social reform after enrolling at the University of Michigan.
Social Activist and Political Career
A co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society in 1961, Hayden was jailed in Albany, Georgia, for attempting to desegregate a railway station. While incarcerated, he began drafting the famed Port Huron Statement, which introduced the concept of "participatory democracy" to a wider audience. Hayden later became president of SDS and helped form the Economic Research and Action Project to spur civil rights progress.
During the mid-1960s, Hayden worked with inner-city New Jersey residents as part of the Newark Community Union Project and began traveling to Hanoi, Vietnam. He was arrested for protesting at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, becoming one of the "Chicago Seven" defendants who were convicted for conspiracy to incite violence but later had their convictions overturned.
Wed briefly to fellow activist Sandra "Casey" Cason in his early 20s, Hayden found a bigger platform for his political energies through his marriage to actress-turned-activist Jane Fonda in 1973. In addition to producing such antiwar movies as Introduction to the Enemy, they sought to win over political converts by giving speeches throughout the country, and transformed their Santa Barbara ranch into an egalitarian children's camp.
Following an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 1976, Hayden formed the Campaign for Economic Democracy and became chairman of the California SolarCal Council. He ran for public office again in 1982, and served in the California State Assembly for 10 years.
Hayden divorced Fonda in 1990 but married Canadian actress Barbara Williams shortly after being voted into the California State Senate in 1992. Despite helping to pass more than 100 measures during his time in office, tackling issues ranging from small-business tax relief to the reduction of gang and domestic violence, his political career stalled. Hayden fell short in his attempts to become governor of California in 1994 and mayor of Los Angeles in 1997, and failed to secure a spot on the Los Angeles City Council in 2001 after leaving the State Senate.
Having already published several books, including his 1988 autobiography, Reunion: A Memoir, Hayden focused more on writing in the new millennium with regular contributions to such publications as The New York Times, The Huffington Post and The Nation. He also became the director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, California, through which he continued to share liberal ideas and speak out against wars.