Political activist Tom Hayden conducts a press conference in Los Angeles in 1973.
The California Senate on Tuesday remembered one of its own, late former state Sen. Tom Hayden, who entered politics after serving as a leading voice in the campaign to end the Vietnam War.
Hayden, who died Oct. 23 in Santa Monica at age 76, is perhaps best known as a counterculture figure who led civil rights and antiwar protests in the 1960s.
But he later served 18 years in the state Legislature, including eight years in the Senate representing a district that included much of West Los Angeles County.
More than a dozen of Hayden’s legislative colleagues, including former Senate President pro Tem John Burton, attended the ceremony in the packed Senate chambers, which included a lone Irish bagpiper.
“He was one of the great visionaries. He was a guy with a lot of courage,” Burton, the California Democratic Party Chairman, said Tuesday.
Burton recalled one bill of Hayden’s that he said originally seemed “wacky,” but that turned out to help young juvenile offenders get out of a life of crime by providing them with tattoo removal.
Burton has previously described Hayden as a “saint of long shots and hard cases” for taking on legislation that was difficult politically. Hayden said in a self-chronicle of his legislative career that he “tried to push important but controversial issues from the margin into the mainstream.”
Colleagues recalled that Hayden’s approach, which included disdain for trading favors, alienated some Democrats, including former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, who removed Hayden from a committee chairmanship and transferred him to a smaller office.
“He was a maverick. He was an independent thinker. He was an intellectual. He was a true progressive,” said current Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “He dedicated his life to the betterment of our state and our great country through the pursuit of peace, justice and equity.”
Legislation introduced by Hayden toughened the laws against child labor, domestic violence and the use of date-rape drugs. He also took on major institutions, requiring a new ethics code at the Metropolitan Water District, expanding conflict-of-interest laws at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and giving subpoena power to the inspector general of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Those in attendance at Tuesday’s remembrance ceremony included Hayden’s wife, Barbara Williams, and Troy Garity, Hayden’s son from his previous marriage to actress Jane Fonda, who was also an activist against the Vietnam War. Fonda was not present Tuesday, but attended another memorial Sunday in Los Angeles.
Former colleagues present included former state Sens. Patrick Johnston (D-Stockton) and Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), and former Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier).
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D- Santa Barbara) said Hayden consulted with her on some of her bills long after she admired him for his street activism against the war.
“He was a rabble-rouser," she saidl "He was raising hell about this war.”
The inmate visitation area at the North Facility of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, is interviewed by Times political cartoonist David Horsey at the Theatre at Ace Hotel over the weekend.