After forty years of activism, politics and writing, Tom Hayden still is a leading voice for ending the war in Iraq, erasing sweatshops, saving the environment, and reforming politics through greater citizen participation.
Currently he is writing and advocating for US Congressional hearings on exiting Iraq.
This year he drafted and lobbied successfully for Los Angeles and San Francisco ordinances to end all taxpayer subsidies for sweatshops.
Hayden was the "single greatest figure of the 1960s student movement", according to a New York Times book review.
Forty years later he was described as "the conscience of the (California State) Senate" by the political columnist of the Sacramento Bee. When he retired in 2000 after eighteen years, including chairing the committees on higher education, labor and environment, he received the longest farewell of any legislator in memory, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Hayden was a student editor at the University of Michigan, and a founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society in 1961. Hayden was author of the Students for a Democratic Society’s visionary call, the Port Huron Statement, described by Howard Zinn as "one of those historic documents which represents an era."
He was a Freedom Rider in the Deep South, arrested and beaten in rural Georgia and Mississippi in the early Sixties.
He became a door-knocking community organizer in Newark's inner city in 1964, part of an effort to create a national poor people's campaign for jobs and empowerment.
When the Vietnam War invaded American lives, Hayden became an increasingly active opponent through teach-ins, demonstrations, writing, and making one of the first trips to Hanoi in 1965 to meet the other side and promote peace talks, journalistic contacts, and American POW releases.
After the political system opened in the Seventies, Hayden organized the grass-roots Campaign for Economic Democracy in California, which won dozens of local offices and shut down a nuclear power plant through a referendum for the first time. The organization led the campaign for Proposition 65 (1986) requiring labels on cancer-causing products, and Proposition 99, tripling tobacco taxes to fund billions for public health and anti-tobacco initiatives.