Tom Hayden: From Freedom Rider to Chicago Seven

The political turbulence of the 1960s has been well documented. and one name that appears prominently in that story is Tom Hayden.

One of the founders of the Students For a Democratic Society, Hayden was also a Freedom Rider in the south, fighting for civil rights, but also became one of the leading young voices against the Vietnam War.

Chicago Seven in 1970. Photo by Don Casper

In the historically tumultuous 1968, Hayden was among several high profile demonstrators at the notorious Democratic National Convention in Chicago. They were eventually brought to trial and became known as The Chicago Seven. Abby Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were also among them

Hayden was also married for many years to another high-profile anti-war activist, actress Jane Fonda.

In subsequent years, Hayden entered politics. He was elected to the California State Assembly and the California State Senate.

And in 1988, some 20 years after the Chicago Seven experience, Hayden wrote a memoir called Reunion. That’s when I met him.

So here now, from 1988, Tom Hayden.

Tom Hayden died in 2016. He was 76.

The Unforgettable ‘I am not a witch’ Moment in Christine O’Donnell’s Campaign

Sometimes we say something stupid that comes back to haunt us years later. That can be especially difficult for someone who’s running for political office.

In 2010, Christine O’Donnell, in her third campaign, rode the Tea Party wave to an upset victory in the Republican primary for US Senate from Delaware.

And then something stupid came back to haunt her.

Years earlier, O’Donnell had appeared on Bill Maher’s TV show and admitted that she had once dabbled in witchcraft.

And before long, that was almost all that some people knew about Christina. O’Donnell, was that she had once dabbled in witchcraft.

Against her own better judgment, she claims, she made a TV commercial in which she declared. “I am not a witch.”

But the damage had been done, and O’Donnell was trounced in the general election.

The following year she wrote a book describing that experience, and detailing the political views that she says she was never able to fully explain during the campaign. Her book was called Troublemaker, and that’s when I have the chance to meet her.

So here now, from 2011, Christine O’Donnell.

Christine O’Donnell is 54 now. She writes a column for the Washington times.

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From Poverty To Political Legend: Arkansas’s Dale Bumpers

Born and raised in a tiny rural Arkansas town, Dale Bumpers was drawn at a very early age into public service, by his encouraging father.

Service in the Marine Corps during World War II was followed by law school, and any illustrious legal career. He was, as he called his 2003 memoir, The Best Lawyer in a One-Lawyer Town.

His political career began in 1970, when he ran successfully for governor of Arkansas. He then flirted with the idea of running for president,but ran for Senate, and served there for the next 24 years.

A fiscally conservative Democrat, Bumpers earned a reputation as a powerful and influential Senator.

In one of his most memorable Senate moments, Bumpers delivered a closing argument in the Bill Clinton impeachment trial.

In 2003, four years after leaving public office, Bumpers published his memoir, and that’s when I met him. So here now, from 2003, Senator Dale Bumpers.

Dale Bumpers died on New Year’s Day 2016. He was 90.

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Wilma Mankiller: A Cherokee Chief’s Journey and Legacy

Wilma Mankiller’s journey into leadership in the Cherokee nation was not planned. She started as an advocate for rural development within her community, gradually rising through the ranks of Cherokee leadership.

In the 1980s she was the first woman elected to Principal Chief.

Her 1993 autobiography, Mankiller, gave her the opportunity to fill a void of knowledge about ANative American history and culture.

Her story, as she recountss in this interview, was not only one of personal resilience but also a testament to the strength of Native American communities.

So here now, from 1993, Wilman Mankiller.

Wilma Mankiller was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And in 2022 her likeness appeared on the quarter-dollar coin minted by the U.S. Treasury.

Mankiller died from pancreatic cancer in 2010. She was 64.

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Rosalynn Carter

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were married in 1946. Both came from close knit families in which caring for the elderly was a responsibility taken seriously.

Both of the Carters devoted themselves to volunteer activities after leaving the White House. And Rosalynn took up the cause of supporting America’s caregivers, Who devoted their lives to helping the sick or elderly.

In 1994 Mrs. Carter wrote a book called Helping Yourself Help Others. And with both her and her husband in their twilight years, her words in this interview seem particularly poignant.

So here now, from 1994, Rosalynn Carter.

Rosalynn Carter. Is 96 now. Jimmy Carter will be 99 in a couple of weeks.

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John Danforth

The US supreme Court has been under intense scrutiny the last couple of years, and perhaps no member has been in a harsher spotlight than Clarence Thomas.

But Thomas is no stranger to controversy and criticism.

The political opposition began virtually as soon as he was nominated to the high court by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, to succeed the retiring Thurgood Marshall.

About this time, Thomas coined the phrase “high-tech lynching” to describe his experience.

Helping shepherd the Thomas nomination through the US Senate was Missouri Republican John Danforth. He was a long time friend, colleague, and even mentor to Thomas, and was eager to see him win confirmation.

That opposition reached a crescendo when a former co-worker of Thomas’s, a woman named Anita Hill, came forth to testify about alleged sexual harassment by Thomas.

Thomas did, of course, ultimately when confirmation. And in 1994 Danforth wrote a book describing the Clarence Thomas episode.

And that’s when I met the Senator. So here now, from 1994, Senator John Danforth.

John Danforth will be 87 next month.

Clarence Thomas is the oldest member of the current Supreme Court, and is its longest-serving current associate justice.

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Phyllis Schlafly

She was a middle-aged housewife from Alton, Illinois. But in the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly launched an anti-feminist crusade that would make her a household name — lauded by many, revered by some, but hated and smeared by many others.

Schlafly positioned herself as the defender of traditional motherhood, becoming virulently anti-feminist, and the leading opponent of the then still-pending Equal Rights Amendment.

As the founder of the group Eagle Forum, Schlafly also had huge influence on the direction of the conservative movement in America.

She even had a syndicated column, and in 2003 she published a collection of those columns, a book she called Feminist Fantasies.

So this is one of the several times that I interviewed her over the years. So here now, from 2003, Phyllis Schlafly.

Phyllis schlafly died in 2016. She was 92.

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Pat Schroeder

In 1972, Colorado was a very conservative state that today we would call a “red” state. But in ’72, voters elected their first ever female member of Congress, the young Democrat Pat Schroeder.

She won re-election in each of the next 11 elections, eventually serving 24 years in the US House of Representatives, becoming one of its most influential members.

She even considered joining the 1988 race for president, but ultimately decided against it. And the way she exited the race became a point of controversy in and of itself.

I met her in 1998 when she wrote a memoir which she called 24 Years of Housework and the Place is Still a Mess.

So here now, from 1998, Pat Schroeder.

Pat Schroeder died this past March, she was 82.

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Margaret Hoover

Photo: Charles Bogel

Today’s Republican party has a problem attracting young voters. But it’s not a new problem.

More than a decade ago, conservative commentator and author Margaret Hoover — great granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover — recognize the problem.

I met her in 2011 when we talked about her book American Individualism.

And as you listen in the next few minutes, you may recognize some familiar themes that permeate politics to this day, including the Republican identity crisis Margaret Hoover talks about.

So here now, from 2011, Margaret Hoover.

Margaret Hoover is 45 now. She is host of “Firing Line” on PBS.

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Lani Guinier

In 1993, the term “woke” had not been invented yet. But a prominent law professor nominated for a high position in the US government Saw her nomination done in by what we would now know as “anti-woke” sentiment.

Her name was Lani Guinier. President Bill Clinton nominated her to be assistant attorney general for civil rights.

That’s, of course, when closer scrutiny of her past writings began. And, she says, that’s when the misrepresentations of her writings began.

Guinier was a strong advocate of voting rights, and a strong believer that all minority voices should be heard in a democracy.

Ultimately, her voice was drowned out by her critics’ voices, and President Clinton withdrew her nomination.

I met her the following year, when she was on a book tour. So here now, from 1994, Lani Guinier.

Lani Guinier died last year. She was 71.

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