One of the founding fathers of the 1960s student movement said the modern Occupy movement is not unlike that of his generation’s fight against inequality.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Port Huron Statement, a young person’s assessment of society at the time, and the statement’s author Tom Hayden said it’s just as relevant today as it was in 1962.
"We wanted to deal with poverty and inequality but the escalation of Vietnam really prevented it," Hayden said.
In the statement, student activists suggested the formation of a participatory democracy rather than a representative one.
"Politicians would come to reflect what the people were demanding" through street actions and community organizing, Hayden said.
While desegregation and the threat of the atomic bomb motivated the students behind the Port Huron Statement, the Occupy movement’s rage against inequality and the power of money in politics shares characteristics with that of its predecessors.
"Everyone seems to agree that (the Occupy movement) has 'changed the conversation,'" Hayden said. "Movements from the outside have a way of being heard and eventually dealt with, at least in reforms."
Hayden cited outsiders like the American revolutionaries and suffragettes as catalysts in bringing about major change in the United States.