Interview with Tom Hayden
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

OK, UM, TALKING ABOUT JOHN KENNEDY AT THIS TIME AND, AND UH, YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE PEACE CORPS AND, AND HOW YOU REPRESENTED A SENSE OF OPTIMISM. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THAT IN TERMS OF STUDENTS IN GENERAL AND WHAT HE REPRESENTED TO SAY THE STUDENT MOVEMENT AT THAT TIME?

Tom Hayden:

Well, I, I think at the time John Kennedy uh, was, was thought of as a generational symbol because uh, he too spoke of the need for a changing of the guard. And uh, in terms of the image, there was a great difference between a young, aggressive, activist, presidential candidate uh, as against uh, President Eisenhower who had seemed to be older, uh, to be representative of the silence and the apathy in the country. At least that was the image. And so uh, Kennedy, by his very presence in the race in the election campaign, tended to mobilize and excite young people. And he did some very specific things. He met with uh, students from Ann Arbor, uh, and endorsed the proposal for a Peace Corps, which these days might, might not seem like much, but then, it was, it was saying that students could play a mature, serious role in the world, and that was extremely important. Uh, and he did so despite the fact that we didn't have the eighteen-year-old vote. Secondly, uh, when Dr. King was in jail he placed a phone call to Mrs. King, that too seems uh, minor in the historical landscape, uh, but it made all the difference in terms of the, the uh, black vote and the liberal vote in the country from uh north to south, and was seen at the time as a, as a, as a major sign of commitment, and probably won John Kennedy the election. Uh, I don't know what, uh, what else we wanna—let me say one other thing about it. The …