Tom Hayden: The Rolling Stone Interview


When Tom Hayden was 17, he wrote his swan song editorial for the Daily Smirker (rhymes with worker) back at Royal Oak High School in Detroit, Michigan, on the overcrowding of public schools. Bland as the body of the editorial was, Hayden employed a bold-faced, big-letter beginning for each paragraph that altogether spelled out his vertical farewell to high school journalism. ‘Go to Hell,’ it read down the page. With petulant outrage, the high-school administration punished Hayden by holding up his academic awards for nearly a year. Of such small beginnings, though, an era of protest was being created in the middle and late Fifties. … By 1950, every Saturday afternoon the 40-cartoon festivals that came on in neighborhood theaters all over America looked like a children’s crusade. In America, at least, what the kids of that generation had of their individuality was always matched by some formidable experiences they shared in common. When the air raid came — was that two short blasts or four long ones? — you got away from the windows, crouched down under your desk with your hands covering the back of your neck and waited to be disintegrated. … There were diversions, of course, and most of them came via kinescope in black and white. Any kid on the block could recite Herbert Philbrick’s three lives before you could call out ‘card carrier’ — Communist, Counterspy and … what was that other one? Ricky Nelson said ‘I don’t mess around, boy,’ to the point of tedium long before he ever heard of an echo chamber, and once a week, Clark Kent — Superman — did it right for ‘truth, justice and the American way.’ Missing American Bandstand on a Monday or The Mickey Mouse Club on a Friday could create a serious disruption in almost anybody’s life. … Tom Hayden was just one of those people as he packed up and traveled on to Ann Arbor in the fall of 1957 when he figured he was about to begin a regimen he counted on making him into a world-famous foreign correspondent someday, trench coat and all. He had dark unruly hair that was maybe a little longer than his mother might have liked it, but nothing outrageous, and his teen-age acne had left a permanent mark. There wasn’t anything particular about him that made it possible to predict he would become one of his generation’s leading politicos and one of his country’s most notorious radicals. …”
Rolling Stone (Oct 26, 1972)
Rolling Stone: Tom Hayden on Port Huron at 50 (July 30, 2012)
Tom Hayden, the ’60s Radical Who Maintained His Humanity (Oct 26, 2016)
NY Times: Tom Hayden, Civil Rights and Antiwar Activist Turned Lawmaker, Dies at 76

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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