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Port Huron Statement's 50th Anniversary

Tom Hayden, co-author of the Port Huron Statement
user KCET Departures

A group of university students wrote thePort Huron Statementfifty years ago at a UAW retreat center, north of Port Huron. They called themselves “Students for a Democratic Society.” One of the main participants was political activist Tom Hayden, who was in his early twenties at the time.

The statement begins with these words: "We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit."

The 25,000 word document addressed racism, poverty, The Cold War, and the nuclear arms race. It was one of the first times there’d been a call-to-action for students to become part of a movement pushing for social change.

The students called for a “participatory democracy.” They wrote that people have the right to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives. In May, Tom Hayden contributed an op-ed to the Los Angeles Times. He wrote that the concept of participatory democracy is still relevant all over the world and can be seen in movements like Occupy Wall Street. 

Historian Michael Kazincalls the statement “the most ambitious, the most specific, and the most eloquent manifesto in the history of the American Left.”

Activist Tom Hayden willspeak on Tuesday eveningat St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron.

Kyle Norris is from Michigan and spent ten years as a host and reporter with Michigan Radio, the state’s largest NPR-affiliate. He lives in Seattle and works as a substitute host and producer at KNKX.
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