URBANA – Veteran anti-war activist Tom Hayden is headlining a conference of peace organizations this month.
The Illinois Coalition for Peace and Justice's second annual conference will be March 30 and 31 at the Holiday Inn in Urbana. Hayden speaks at 7 p.m. March 30. Conference information is at the conference Web site at http://www.ilcpj.org/conference07/ .
Hayden, best known in Illinois as one of the Chicago 7 arrested at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, has served as a legislator in California, taught at Harvard, fought tobacco interests and nuclear power and inspired generations of peace activists.
From another perspective, he is held in contempt by some veterans for a trip he made to North Vietnam near the end of the war with then-wife Jane Fonda.
Jan Kruse of Champaign-Urbana's Anti War Anti-Racism Effort said the peace conference is growing, with 111 state peace groups in attendance, compared with about 90 last year.
"They really wanted to expand statewide," Kruse said of organizers in Chicago," and they see Champaign-Urbana as pulling groups in from Springfield, Bloomington and southern Illinois."
Pax Christi and other religious groups will attend, she said.
Last year, the peace conference was also held in Champaign-Urbana.
"Rich Whitney, one of the speakers, talked about a way of getting advisory referendums on ballots. He initiated our thinking along that line," Kruse said.
"These conferences are also really good for networking. It's good to find out we're not alone," she added.
Hayden was a student editor at Michigan, and as a founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society in 1961, he wrote its manifesto.
Hayden was a Freedom Rider in the Deep South, arrested and beaten in rural Georgia and Mississippi in the early 1960s.
During the Vietnam War, he helped lead street demonstrations at the 1968 Chicago convention.
He was indicted in 1969 with seven others on conspiracy and incitement charges. After five years of trials, and appeals, he was acquitted of all charges.
Hayden was elected to the California state assembly in 1982, and the state Senate 10 years later, serving 18 years in all.