It is with a deep regret that we say goodbye to our dear friend, Tom Hayden, a bright star of the Progressive community and movement for so many years. Tom passed away after a series of strokes [Oct. 23].
Tom is best known for his authorship of the Port Huron Statement and being one of the Chicago 7, as well as his years serving the Westside in the California State Assembly. He had a special relationship with ADA as well.
Whenever our organization put together a conference or teach-in on one of a number of wars our country has embarked upon, or on Homelessness or on Income Disparity, or Police Abuse or on a host of other issues that Tom was at the forefront of, he was our first choice to speak at the event. During his unsuccessful run for City Council in 2001, ADA SoCal worked tirelessly for him, phone-banking and door knocking.
Besides being president of ADA, SoCal, I participate in the political satire group, The Billionaires — we sport tuxedos and evening gowns and pretend to be the corporate donors who own and control America’s political system. We often performed at events that Tom headlined. And Tom always got such a big kick out of our antics. Whenever he’d spot me at a political event when I wasn’t in costume, he’d ask where my top hat was.
When a great stalwart in our movement dies, it’s as if they drop the torch they’ve been carrying forward. Other younger people come up and continue the fight on their own terms, but no one ever picks up that person’s torch. We can never replace Tom Hayden.
He is so deeply missed!
Clifford J. Tasner is the President of Americans for Democratic Action, Southern California.