'60s icon Tom Hayden praises Occupy Wall St.


Byline: Lee Hammel

WORCESTER - While some people see Occupy Wall Street as a disorganized movement, Tom Hayden told an audience at Clark University yesterday that he's encouraged by the progress it's achieved.

And few people have been as closely associated with so many social movements as Mr. Hayden. The 71-year-old speaker interviewed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1960 and jettisoned his journalism career to try to achieve the kind of change that Rev. King was making.

Mr. Hayden was arrested in Mississippi during the southern civil rights campaign, achieved national fame as one of the Chicago Eight put on trial after disrupting the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and has been an antiwar and environmental activist, stopping on the way to serve 20 years in the California state Senate.

Mr. Hayden, the director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center, spoke last night after telling 45 people in an afternoon talk that the antiwar movements against Vietnam and Iraq took many years, not many months to gain the kind of acceptance that the Occupy Wall Street movement has achieved in New York, Boston, Worcester and across the country.

But Mr. Hayden, a founder in the 1960s of the radical Students for a Democratic Society, said it is foolish to think Occupy Wall Street can achieve basic banking reform and its other aims in a few months or even by the 2012 election. It will take years, even though, he said, it has received a great deal of acceptance among ordinary Americans as evidenced by the many positive news stories -something that didn't happen until years after the birth of the antiwar movements.

He said The New York Times - of which he has a vastly different view than conservatives - acknowledges and even gives good coverage to the Occupy movement. He compared that to what he said was false coverage that denied that there were huge demonstrations around the world against the war in Iraq.

It took years for mainstream papers such as the Times to acknowledge or take seriously demonstrations against the Vietnam War, he...

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