Tom Hayden addresses an anti-war demonstration during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. (Wikimedia Commons)

The world has lost prominent left-wing activist, author and lawmaker Tom Hayden, who died Sunday in Santa Monica, Calif., from complications from a stroke. He was 76.

Hayden was well known in his later years for his political involvement, but he began to make headlines as a left-wing “radical” activist in the 1960s. He “vaulted into national politics in 1962 as lead author of a student manifesto that became the ideological foundation for demonstrations against the war,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

He spent years fighting for civil rights, although his entrance to the movement was somewhat reluctant. “I wasn’t born an activist,” Hayden said in a recent video interview.

His involvement in progressive causes eventually led him to politics. The Los Angeles Times continues:

Hayden lost campaigns for U.S. Senate, governor of California and mayor of Los Angeles. But he was elected to the California Assembly in 1982. He served a total of 18 years in the Assembly and state Senate.

During his tenure in the Legislature, representing the liberal Westside, Hayden relished being a thorn in the side of the powerful, including fellow Democrats he saw as too pliant to donors.

“He was the radical inside the system,” said Duane Peterson, a top Hayden advisor in Sacramento.

Hayden remained a left-wing voice in California politics later in life, and wrote several articles for Truthdig over the past decade. His ideals were always present in his journalism. “Americans must not be timid in speaking up,” he wrote in a 2006 piece on U.S. foreign policy. “Silence is consent to occupation.”

Hayden leaves a rich journalistic and political legacy. In the wake of his passing, we turn to you, our readers. Did Hayden’s work affect your life in some way? What are your thoughts on his decades of work? Reminisce on Hayden’s life in our comments section below.

—Posted by Emma Niles


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