A group of university students wrote the Port Huron Statement fifty 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 Kazin calls the statement “the most ambitious, the most specific, and the most eloquent manifesto in the history of the American Left.”
Activist Tom Hayden will speak on Tuesday evening at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron.