Tom Hayden
(1939 — 2016)


As remembered by Joan C. Browning
October 24, 2016

Another Freedom Rider done gone. Tom was one of the nine Albany Freedom Riders, on the last Freedom Ride, from Atlanta to Albany, Georgia, December 10, 1961. Tom bailed out of Doughterty County Jail to attend a meeting that led to the The Port Huron Statement, the poetic statement of our generation's dreams. As we sat together at the head table at the Albany Civil Rights Museum's Annual Dinner in November 2001, I awaiting to introduce Tom as the evening's keynote speaker, our... reminiscences about our younger days faded into conversation about current health concerns. Tom had been diagnosed with issues that made the wonderful Carter's Restaurant plate before us off limits. What a journey, we thought, from Freedom Riders throwing our bodies against the walls of American apartheid to aging folks concerned about nurturing failing body parts! Ten years later, Tom was in true Tom Hayden form as Oprah Winfrey brought us Freedom Riders to Chicago for a 50th reunion. I never understood everything you were saying but Casey Hayden and Robb Burlage and others translated for me. Rest in peace and power, Tom.


As remembered by Bob Zellner
October 24, 2016

Tom Hayden is a good example of the way history is made. Most of us on the Albany Freedom Ride just happened to be around the SNCC office when Jim Forman, our organization genius, decided we needed to boost the Albany movement, lead by Charles Sherrod. On Dec. 11th? l961 we took off, and the rest is history. Amazing that Tom and Casey Hayden were in the group. We do need to make a statement. I was shocked and sad, not knowing that Tom was ailing. We need to reach out to each other as we approach the great beyond. We should send good wishes to Charles and Shirley.


As remembered by Dr. Gwendolyn M. Patton
October 24, 2016

I remember when Tom and Rennie took me to see the Beetles' movie, "The Yellow Submarine" on the West Coast. I could not fathom the message of the allegory, but had loads of fun as Tom and Rennie laughed uproariously. Tom was a lot of fun.

Sisterly, Gwen Patton


As remembered by Stuart Ewen
October 24, 2016

I've been remembering Tom as well. Particularly when I first met him, in Mississippi. I was amazed that as he sat down with a bunch of us in a cafe he learned everyone's name within a few minutes. He had a head for politics.


As remembered by Ed Dubinsky
October 27, 2016

Following are some early reminiscences of Tom Hayden.

I first met Tom in the summer of 1958 when I was a teaching fellow (in mathematics) and he was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. Walter Kaufmann, a Philosopher of Religion was visiting from Princeton University and he gave a summer course in the Philosophy of Religion. Tom was a student in the class and I audited it. It was a lecture class with lots of discussion in which both Tom and I participated heavily. Towards the end of the class, Tom approached me and invited me to attend an evening meeting he had set up with Professor Kauffman, Professor Tonsor, a proponent of Catholicism and some of the students in the class to discuss the existence of God and related questions. I believe Tom had been raised in the Catholic faith and it was my impression that he was struggling with his Catholicism. The evening was very rich, the arguments intelligent and I, at least, learned a lot. A critical moment came when Kauffmann had made a very telling point refuting the existence of God and Tonsor responded with "Well, what we Catholics say to people like you is that we will discuss it with you again — after you have met God." I don't know about Tom and the others, but for me, that represented Tonsor giving up and settled the question.

At the time, the Michigan Union had a huge cafeteria divided into three rooms where many students and faculty gathered to eat, drink coffee, study, prepare classes, and discuss the issues of the day. For example, I would come in each morning, drop my books and papers on a table, have coffee and then go about my business of teaching and attending classes, taking with me only what was needed. I used the union as an office where I prepared my classes, met with students and non-students and I even wrote the first draft of my thesis on Union napkins (imagine the consternation of my thesis advisor when I came to my thesis defense, whipped out a pile of napkins and used them as notes for my talk!)

Anyway, the folks who ran the union were not happy with our presence. They called us undesirables and told us to stay away unless we were eating. The Director even came one day and took my books and papers away! We were discussing what to do about this situation when someone came and told us that the editor of the Michigan Daily wanted to come and discuss the matter with us. The Michigan Daily was a student newspaper but completely independent of the university. We saw this interview as some kind of a move by the administration to cool us off. Nevertheless, we reluctantly agreed. So at the appointed hour we were all sitting together in the Union and in walks Tom Hayden, who was now the Editor of the paper. He sat down and surprised us by immediately discussing with us strategies of passive resistance. I don't recall many details but his advice must have been good because we managed to maintain our presence, at least for several years.

I only had one more meeting with Tom and that was several years later in 1965, when I was on the faculty at Tulane University. I divided my time between teaching my classes, doing research in theoretical mathematics, driving to Laurel, MS for two days a week to work on voter registration and doing community organizing in the Second Ward of New Orleans (we had a Freedom School going for a while). I was working with people like Matt "Flukie" Suarez and Cathy Cade. That summer, Flukie and I decided to drive up to New York to visit the World's Fair and see some people. On the way back, we stopped in New Jersey to visit the ERAP project being run by Tom Hayden. I remember us all sitting on the floor and talking movement for several hours. It was exhilarating and I learned a lot.

That was the last time I saw Tom, but I followed his career ever since and tried to read everything he wrote. He was, for me, an inspiring, charismatic figure and we lose a lot from his passing. I am glad to have known him, however briefly.


As remembered by Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee
October 31, 2016

Tom Hayden in Memorium


By now you have probably heard the sad news of the passing of our friend, colleague and inspiration Tom Hayden.

Tom was one of the authors of the widely signed letter challenging the Pentagon's version of commemorating the Vietnam war and a driving force behind our 2015 conference in Washington.

We have created a interim page for articles about and personal reflections on Tom focusing on his contributions to peace here: It includes semi-official tributes from Vietnam, Cuba and Ireland and reflections from activists in the US that have already come to our attention.


The VPCC Continuations Committee

Ira Arlook
Sally Benson
Heather Booth
David Cortright
Bill Goodfellow
John McAuliff
Terry Provance
Paul Ryder
Marge Tabankin


As remembered by Casey Hayden
November 1, 2016

I met Tom at the United States National Student Association (USNSA) conference of student body presidents in 1960. He was a college newspaper editor and interviewed me, as a supporter of the sit-ins. He was very intense. He sent me boxes of books, and all his editorials and long letters. I fell in love with his writing. We were together the following summer, organizing in the SDS office, and I ran the office for an insurgent Democrat out of Mark Lane's basement.

He came south with me to Atlanta after we married that October, where I had a job in race relations with the YWCA working for Ella Baker. I was already inside SNCC as a result of my direct action organizing in Texas and speech in support for the sit ins at that NSA convention, and was his entree to that world.

We took the freedom ride the Albany GA together, me as assigned observer to report in the results and be whisked out of town as the crowd identified me, to Koinonia nearby...I took the calls when he was beaten with Paul Potter in Mississippi...We were comrades in a real way, inside the beloved community of nonviolent social change, young, radical, wild, beautiful, all of us.

Together we started SDS and lived in poverty with high ideals but fell apart when I joined him as a grad student wife in Ann Arbor the following year. I returned South, and we never made it back together, but I kept his last name along with my high school nickname, in honor of the innocence in our love, our grand adventure, and our mutual good intentions, for the rest of my life.


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