Renowned Political Activist Receives Small Welcome

BY NICK IRONSIDE // OCT. 12, 2012 //

Students are apparently key members in the effort to reform history. However, only nine showed up to hear renowned political activist Tom Hayden speak on campus Thursday night.

Milton residents outnumbered Curry students when political activist Tom Hayden spoke on the Curry campus. // COURTESY OF KCET DEPARTURES //

Hayden, a social and political activist who was among the leaders of the U.S. anti-war movements of the 1960s, addressed a crowd of about 50 in the Keith Auditorium last night. The crowd largely consisted of local residents, Curry faculty and staff, and members of the “Milton For Peace” organization.

“I didn’t think that hardly anybody would show up,” said junior politics and history major Matthew Hirsch, adding that “thirsty Thursday”—a moniker for end-of-the-week partying—likely kept a lot of students from attending Hayden’s talk.

Hirsch took notes throughout the talk and said he attended, in part, “to get Mr. Hayden’s view on foreign policy.”

In addition to speaking about his experiences through the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam protests, Hayden live-tweeted analysis of the vice presidential debate for the Los Angeles Times Web site. The debate was televised in Keith.

Hayden was initially invited to town by “Milton For Peace,” a local organization that works to “educate and engage Milton residents in non-violent action to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” according to their Web site. Curry Politics & History Department Chairman Larry Hartenian worked with the community organization in finding a place on campus to host Hayden’s talk.

Hayden told the story of how he started as a social and political activist. He was covering the 1960 Democratic Convention as a newspaper reporter as his first job out of college. One of the picketers at the convention was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who Hayden met and interviewed.

He quickly realized that King was at the convention “with a purpose,” said Hayden. He, on the other hand, “was there to get a byline.” That realization jolted Hayden into a life of hands-on activism.

Some 50 years later, the now 72-year-old is the author of eight books and a former member of the California State Senate, from 1992-2000. And he still speaks passionately about the problems of war.

“I guess there are still some people who believe we can afford two to three wars and health care at the same time,” said Hayden, referencing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But even as he cited college-aged people as key members of political reformation, the message seemingly fell flat given that only nine Curry students were there to hear it. When the talk wrapped up at around 9 p.m., just one of those students stuck around Keith to watch the vice presidential debate.

Apparently, it’s hard to start a revolution on Thirsty Thursday.

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