Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tom Hayden In Memorium

A public memorial for Tom Hayden is being planned for Sunday, February 19, at Royce Hall in Los Angeles.  

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made to the Peace and Justice Resource Center, which will aid in the continued promotion and preservation of Tom's good works.

His family asks for privacy at this time and thanks all those who have reached out with condolences.  

Below are public and personal comments that have come to our attention, including links to published responses.  Please send additional links to Personal reflections can be sent to the same address or added via "Post a Comment" below.


From Vietnam

Dear American friends/brothers/sisters and colleagues:

Warmest greetings from the Vietnam-USA Society, Hanoi, Vietnam!

We are all shocked and saddened to learn that Tom Hayden, a well-known progressive American peace-activist/leader and especially a long-time good friend of the Vietnamese people died at the age of 76 on Sunday, October 23rd 2016 in the arms of his loved ones.

With all his work and energy, Tom Hayden had made great contributions to make this world a better place of mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation among nations without war, violation, discrimination and unjust treatments. Tom will be forever living in our hearts and never forgotten.
We at the Vietnam-USA Society (Viet-My Committee before 1991) had many opportunities to host and facilitate the visits together with some American peace-activists and also his loved ones and friends to the North Vietnam during the war (1965, 1967 and 1972) and also several times in recent years of 2008, 2013). He had a receiver of "Medal of Peace and Friendship among Nations", the most valuable award from VUFO in 2008.

We at VUFO, VUS and VPC will send an official letter of condolences to Barbara Williams, all his loved ones and friends soon.

FYI, I now propose (to the VUS/VUFO leaders) holding a memorial ceremony on Friday afternoon, October 28th 2016 in VUFO Headquarters in Hanoi, for colleagues and friends both Vietnamese and Americans and internationals ) to attend to commemorate and pay tribute/homage Tom Hayden. (We hope to have some veteran peace activists of Vietnam as Mdm Nguyen Thi Binh, Mr. Pham Khac Lam, Mr. Tran Minh Quoc, Mr. Trinh Ngoc Thai, Mr. Nguyen Van Huynh…and Ameriican friends as Ms. Lady Borton, Chuck Searcy, and some others American and internationals available in Hanoi to attend)

We avail of this to send the deepest sympathy and condolences to Barbara, Liam, Troy, and his family and relatives and all our colleagues and friends there on such a big loss.

May our mutual great friend and great peace activist Tom Hayden rest in peace in the grace of God! May his loved ones and relatives have enough courage and energy to overcome the sorrow to soon resume a normal life.

Tom Hayden will certainly be with us forever and never forgotten!

With the sincerest condolences,

Bui Van Nghi
VUS Secretary General
The Vietnam-USA Society

From Cuba

Where to begin? What can one say faced with the difficult news of his death?

We worked together, at a distance, on the new edition of “Listen
Yankee! Why Cuba matters”, the outcome, in part, of long conversations
between two old friends, and to an extent in part, a sort of fore
handed memorie.

Because our friendship remained intact since the 1960´s when we each
headed glorious organizations, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
and the Federación Estudiantil Universitaria (FEU).

Our ideals and our struggle united us and above all the headstrong
conviction that a better world was possible and that it was something
worth dedicating one’s life to achieve.

There is so much that must be said about Tom Hayden. The long road
that so often sent him to jail from the days when he marched in the
South to defend the civil rights of black people to finding himself at
the helm of the movement against the Viet Nam war with its seminal
moment at the insurgence of the youth movement in Chicago in 1968. A
road that led him to occupy elective posts never abandoning the dreams
of his youth.

Because for him the 60´s were never a thing of the past and one can
never reference those everlasting years without mentioning him

He had a large body of published works, books, essays, and speeches
from the Port Huron Statement, functional manifesto for SDS, to his
texts on Afro-American rebellion in New Jersey, to his most recent
works, where his solidarity with Cuba was ever present, and where his
struggle for the freedom of the Cuban Five saw no bounds.

His life and his ideas will continue being an inspiration to the new
generations. He was, is and always will be, what the founder of the
FEU in Cuba always wanted, an eternal young rebel.

Until victory onward Tom, comrade in arms, comrade.

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
(former President of the National Assembly)

From Ireland

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed sympathy at the death of US political figure Tom Hayden.

Speaking today Teachta Adams said;

“I heard today of the death of Tom Hayden with sadness and regret.

“Tom was a truly iconic figure who had a profound and lasting influence on the direction of American politics in the 60s and 70s .

“His identification with Ireland and his pride in his Irish roots are well documented particularly in his book Irish on the Inside published in 2001.

“He was a friend and an ally.

“He was outspoken about his support for justice and equality in Ireland and visited the north many times. His writings on Ireland showed his unequivocal solidarity with the efforts to bring about change, something that was at the core of his political work all his life.

“Tom was on the California State legislature from 1982 to 2000, serving as Assembly man and Senator.

“Our deepest sympathies to his family, to his wife Barbara Williams, his sons Troy Garity and Liam, his step daughter Vanessa and to his circle of friends and colleagues world wide.”


Personal Reflections

From Arthur Waskow

Friends, Comrades, Co-workers for the Healing of the World, and Beloveds — 

I opened the NY Times on-line this morning and, glancing over the myriad articles on the Home Page, caught my breath to see 

Tom was one of the best of our gaggle of change-makers. 

I met Tom during the Golden Age of SDS, when Tom and Todd Gitlin, Carol Cohen McEldowney, Paul Booth, Casey Hayden, Alan Haber, Marilyn Salzman Webb, Lee Webb were so brave and so brilliant that they drew me into my first arrests, drew me into fusing the profound intellectual work of Marc Raskin and others of my colleagues at the Institute for Policy Studies with the brilliant and moving — emotionally and spiritually moving — social analysis of the Port Huron Statement, which Tom wrote, and with the radical community organizing and nonviolent street protests that he often led. 

I remember him among the SDS gathering to protest in Washington during the Cuban Missile Crisis when in the face of what seemed a quite likely death of millions in a nuclear war, they came in tears and determination to challenge the insanity. 

I remember him in 1968 in Chicago, semi-disguised for fear of bing picked out and arrested while he was marshaling the antiwar protests at the Democratic National Convention, asking me and a number of other antiwar Convention delegates to make up a thin line standing between Mayor Daley's police and the National Guard on the one hand and the Grant Park demonstrators on the other hand, in the hope that we could prevent a bloody police attack on the crowd in the park by putting our "more respectable” bodies in the way. 

I remember him facing the rabidly hostile Judge Julius Hoffman as one of the defendants in the trial of the Chicago Eight, accused by the US government of fomenting riot in Chicago — and calling to ask me to come testify as an eyewitness that the Grant Park demonstrators were planning nonviolent protests, not a violent riot. 

I remember him writing and speaking on how the best of the radical Irish tradition, one strand of the thought-weave with which he identified, spoke to justice and to caring for the Earth, and his affirmation of what I had been doing in parallel, drawing on Jewish tradition. 

I remember him just a year and a half ago in a moment of laughing together over a cup of coffee before he took up the struggle once again, speaking at the 25th anniversary gathering to celebrate and renew the Vietnam Peace Movement. 

I imagine him now, not resting in peace but once more taking up the struggle in an ambiguous “Heaven” to win more justice, more peace, more healing in the world. 

Tom Hayden, Presente! 

Shalom, salaam, peace, Earth! Arthur 

From Chuck Searcy

I've been thinking about Tom since I heard the news last night.  He was rock-steady, always willing to listen but unwavering in his commitment and his vision.  He was impressively smart and articulate, with a talent for explaining challenges and strategies in ways that made them seem actually achievable. 

A few years ago Tom was in Viet Nam on a short visit, with his wife and son.  The Vietnamese chose the occasion to honor Tom with a Friendship Medal awarded at a small ceremony to which I was invited. The medal was presented by former Vice President Nguyen Thi Binh, in the presence of current and retired officials, some former ambassadors, a few who were part of the negotiating team at the Paris Peace Talks.  

Tom spoke about the early anti-war years and efforts to join together people of good will in Viet Nam and the U.S. to bring about an end to the war.  He became emotional as he reflected on those past experiences, recalling what the people of Viet Nam had suffered through, the shock and horror people around the world felt during the Christmas bombing of 1972.  I looked around the small room and everyone had tears in their eyes.  It was a moving moment.  I understood then the significant impact that people like Tom had brought to bear during those difficult years, and the depth of appreciation from the Vietnamese for the commitment of Tom and so many thousands of Americans and others who were part of the effort. That unity and solidarity bonded us all for a lifetime.  

Tom was tireless, to the very end.  His contributions will be remembered with gratitude and respect. 

From Robert Garcia

I met Tom Hayden when he was running for US Senate in 1976. We have worked arm in arm – on police reform, environmental justice, education, human rights in Guatemala, Cuba, Ireland and the U.S. . . . Tom is a national hero. Tom is one of my heroes.

With civil rights leader Paul Hoffman we wrote an op/ed in the L.A. Times and letter to the U.S. Department of Justice that led to the Ramparts consent decree and 13 years of police reform in the L.A. Police Department.

Tom helped secure state funds to create L.A. State Historic Park and Rio de Los Angeles State Park, leading to the greening of the L.A. River and the green justice movement in California. He lifted up our work on climate justice, securing grant support for us. He introduced us to legislators in Sacramento for quality education including physical education in public schools. He brought us in to help build a successful defense team for Alex Sanchez, pledging his own house for bail, resulting in the federal government dismissing all charges.

When the head of the Irish bar association asked me to introduce them, Tom asked only one question before agreeing:  Is he Catholic? Tom is one of the smartest, most widely read people I have ever known. He would casually mention books, leading to weeks of reading for me to understand what we needed to know in order to act.

People asked "Is that the Tom Hayden on The City Project's Board?" Yes, the Tom Hayden. Tom inspired my sons and generations of others to carry it on. Tom and I stood face to face with death in a way few will ever know; he helped me make it through the dark time. He outed my personal voice by publishing my personal messages to him, teaching me to be human and not hide behind the legal and political. I often took notes during our conversations to try to live up to his words – "If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, you will engender fear. Address the fear."

The struggle continues. The struggle is easier because Tom helps lead the way. Thank you, Tom, with love and peace.

Robert García
Founding Director and Counsel 
The City Project 
1055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1660 
Los Angeles, CA 90017 
Visit our website and blog at 

From Robert J.S. “Bob” Ross

Thinking about Tom

Monday, October 24, 2016

Always at the edge of the possible and the visionary. Ever able to formulate our best hopes and fears into language that elevated and instructed. Baseball fan. Wanting to recast the radical tradition into American idiom and take it out of the hands of sectarians. Willing to be, as our friend Jack Newfield put it, in a prophetic minority, but always looking for the route to majoritarian progress.

It was Tom that found the phrase participatory democracy in another of our friend’s work, Prof. Arnie Kaufman, and made it an anthem. If Carl Oglesby was the one who took the English language and in his eloquence fueled the anti-war movement, it was Tom and others of our cohort who strategized that movement and led it to a kind of victory in the Seventies.

When Tom came back to Ann Arbor after the summer of 1961, impressed with Berkeley’s SLATE political party, he and Ken McEldowney and Andy Hawley initiated VOICE political party. Then, Sharon Jeffrey and I led VOICE into SDS and won seats on the student government. VOICE became SDS’s largest chapter with broadest campus support. It was Tom who had the vision of student political parties as a democratic vehicle for progressive agitation.

When Tom was drafting the Port Huron Statement, Al Haber and I were nominally on the drafting committee with him. He would send us ideas and pieces and reports of what he was reading. We were pretty much the cheering section. When we worked on it at Port Huron’s AFL-CIO camp it was Tom who devised the means of having a democratic discussion of a very large document:  the division of it into debatable bones for which a later drafting committee would finalize the mandated flesh.

In retrospect, amidst all the serious, and as the War wore on, increasingly grim, work there some moments of hilarity. On the night of the big antiwar demonstrations during the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention Tom was concerned that the Chicago Police Department would try to kill him. As the rally in Grant Park ended and demonstrators began the technically forbidden march through downtown, Tom and I got in to the car of a journalist and with his press pass as a passport, got through the police lines and out of the Park. Back on the South Side at my apartment Tom used theatrical glue to put on a false beard and he took the hat I used for fishing together trying to disguise himself. We returned in our magic carpet press car to Michigan Avenue to take up the march. As I recall it in my mind’s eye in his disguise he looked just like Tom Hayden in a silly get-up.

Thinking about our current situation I am reminded that when Tom ran for Senate in California he created an organization called the Campaign for Economic Democracy and used that idea to signify egalitarian policies that would still be relevant. And in his last few years his newsletter kept referring to The Long War – a term he used for the whole disastrous Middle Eastern theatre.

At the beginning of our era and until the end of his life Tom had a prophetic voice. That voice, needed now so very much, will be sorely missed.

From John McAuliff

Tom was probably the first new left person I met when I went to a National Student Association conference for Carleton College prior to the Mississippi Summer Project and Peace Corps.

We worked together most intensely when I was at AFSC and he and Jane Fonda and others were creating the Indochina Peace Campaign.

Our shared passion for Vietnam and Cuba is obvious enough. Less visible to others was Ireland and the unfinished struggle for its unification.

Tom's political insights and sense of strategy were an unusual blend of vision and practicality. If any of us had the potential to emerge as a mainstream national political leader, it was Tom. The fact it did not happen reflected the challenge for the US left to seriously engage with power. Imagine the impact in the US Senate had Tom become a member; likely greater than Paul Wellstone.

McAuliff response to kvetching from the left in comments section of The Nation

Tom took the risk of applying his new left values in the real world.

The impact of his internationalism was appreciated in Vietnam, Cuba and Northern Ireland as can be seen here

Tom was a long time friend and colleague.  I disagreed with his pre-convention endorsement of Hillary Clinton, but respected his goal.

We will miss his vision, his organizing skill and his engagement with our history.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

From Leaders of United for Peace and Justice

United for Peace and Justice mourns the death of Tom Hayden, a long-time friend and generous supporter of our organization. 

Tom Hayden will be remembered as one of the giants of the movement for peace and social justice in our lifetime. Through all the major struggles of the past decades ? for civil rights, peace, a safe environment annd labor rights- his was a consistent voice on behalf of a wider humanity. 

Throughout his adult life, Tom never shied away from controversy and his ideas about strategy were never predictable. What could be counted upon was his thoughtfulness ? his willingness to look at problems in a coomplex way and to be open to different perspectives. 

Always a person of courage and energy, he remained an inspiration to new generations of activists. 
For United for Peace and Justice, he was a loyal friend---participating in our conferences, working groups and strategy sessions. No matter how busy he might be, when we needed his help, he was there for us. 

We will always value our association with Tom Hayden and forever benefit from his example of principled activism. 

--Leslie Cagan, Rusti Eisenberg, and Gael Murphy and the United for Peace and Justice Coordinating Committee 

Video of Tom addressing UFPJ conference in 2007


New York Times obituary

Los Angeles Times obituary

Article by John Nichols in The Nation 

Article by Steve Wasserman in The Nation

Article by Richard Eskow in

Article by Mike Davis in Los Angeles Review of Books

Op-ed article by Harold Meyerson in Los Angeles Times

Article by Bill Boyarksy in Truthdig

Op-ed article by Marjorie Cohn in Consortium News

Article by Vivian Rothstein in Capital and Main
"How Tom Hayden Helped Change My Life – and the Country – for the Better"

Article in Vietnam's primary newspaper, Lao Dong (in Vietnamese)

Obituary by Peter Dreier in The American Prospect
"Tom Hayden Always Rocked The Boat"

Article by Richard Flacks in In These Times
"Remembering Tom Hayden (1939-2016): My Friend and a Lifelong Change Maker"


  1. Literally, starting in 1965 I never stopped learning from Tom.

  2. <3 Tom Hayden <3 For all you've done for all of us... I wish you peace <3