Remembering Tom Hayden: A Life of Activism and Radical Reform
Thursday, February 9, 2017, 6:00 p.m., Mechanics' Institute Library, 57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA, 94104 (Admission $15.00, Members Free)

 

moderated by Steve Wasserman, with Clara Bingham, Willie Brown Jr., and Judy Gumbo

presented by Mechanics' Institute Library in conjunction with City Lights and Yale University Press

Tom Hayden, the principal author in 1962 of the founding manifesto of Students for a Democratic Society, the Port Huron Statement, led an extraordinary life of organizing, writing, and political reform. He put himself on the line during Mississippi Summer in 1964, was a principal opponent of the Vietnam War, a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial, and served nearly 20 years in the California legislature. His death in Santa Monica at age 76 in October 2016 offers an occasion to think more deeply about the prospects of change and making history in America, past, present, and future.

This evening we celebrate the release of

Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement

By Tom Hayden

published by Yale University Press

"Hell no" was the battle cry of the largest peace movement in American history-the effort to end the Vietnam War, which included ?thousands of veterans. The movement was divided among radicals, revolutionaries, sectarians, moderates, and militants, which legions of paid FBI informants and government provocateurs tried to destroy. Despite these obstacles millions? marched, resisted the draft on campuses, and forced two sitting presidents from office. This movement was a watershed in our history, yet today it is in danger of being forgotten, condemned by its critics for everything from cowardice to stab-in-the-back betrayal. In this indispensable ?essay, Tom Hayden, a principal anti-Vietnam War organizer, ?calls to account elites who want to forget the Vietnam peace movement and ?excoriates those who trivialize its ?impact, engage in caricature of protestors and question their patriotism. In so doing, he seeks both a reckoning and a healing of national memory.

Critical Praise for Hello No:

Tom Hayden, legend of the Sixties and the antiwar movement, offers a powerful reflection that transcends caricature and stereotype, and reminds us why a democratic society needs a genuine mass opposition that points toward values of peace and justice." — Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer, and author of Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

"Tom Hayden gives an insider's view of the unprecedented movement against the Vietnam War--a movement that brought together (and divided) America. He chronicles and analyzes that broad opposition from its initial brave days through its singular final success. He also documents the ways politicians, police, and the FBI tried to destroy it. Critics accused the antiwar movement of treason; Hayden shows himself and ?fellow dissenters ?to be exemplary patriots. This is a necessary and hugely important book."--Amy Wilentz, Professor of English, University of California, Irvine, and author of Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti

"The actual history of the Vietnam War and the movement to stop it is a heretofore largely obscured treasure trove for Americans looking to understand their country and themselves.  Tom Hayden maps and evokes that rediscovered history for us as an eyewitness, a superior researcher, and a keen-eyed analyst of movements and international policy.  Hell No portrays a national conscience on the move and how it succeeded despite all odds.  All of us will be the better for reading this book."--David Harris, author of Our War: What We Did in Vietnam and What It Did To Us