This progressive manifesto challenged the Cold War and campus apathy, condemned American racism, and called for a new student movement centered on the idea of participatory democracy. The manifesto helped to inspire the generation of student activists who would organize against war, racism, poverty and political repression in the 1960s.
Tom Hayden, the lead author of the Port Huron Statement, had edited the student newspaper at the University of Michigan, served as an early leader of SDS, risked his life as a freedom rider in the South, and worked with the black led Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in its struggle for civil rights in Mississippi. Hayden later served 18 years in the California state legislature.
He wrote a new introduction to the Port Huron Statement in 2005 (published with the Port Huron Statement by Public Affairs press). Last October he spoke to NYU students, faculty, and New York City teachers and community members at the Tamiment Library in a talk that focused on the Port Huron Statement and the struggle for participatory democracy during and since the 1960s.