Howie Hawkins arrived at his mid-peninsula California high school in the fall of 1967. That October, playing on a less than successful football team, his political consciousness was tweaked by a call for Ban the Draft Week, which shut down the Oakland Induction Center.
Although classifying himself as a sprinter, Hawkins shifted to cross-country the next year, and didn't let the books interfere with his education. Meanwhile, the student strike at San Francisco State, the street battles to protest the destruction of that city's People's Park and a host of other Sixties highlights rocked the nation's left coast before he graduated in 1971.
Concerned with the vulnerable number assigned to him for the military draft, Hawkins enlisted in the Marines' Platoon Leaders Training Program, serving for six years and achieving the rank of sergeant, but not completing his commission. Conflict with the Corps arose, he recalls, when he asserted his position that while he would uphold his pledge to defend the Constitution of the United States, he would refuse to fight in an unconstitutional war--one which had not been declared by Congress. In 1984 he helped found the national Green Party, and has run for office locally on that line 13 times.
Shepperd asks Hawkins:
There seemed to be more of a deliberation process this time compared to all the other races you have entered. Was this a more difficult decision?
No, we deliberate every time. This time there was no hesitation on the part of the Green activists, because they are in the middle of the anti-war movement in this town, the public power campaign, some of them are involved in the work on Onondaga Creek. They want to expand on some of the ideas on a sustainable Syracuse developed in the mayoral campaign in 2005. There was a feeling that if we got involved in the Congressional race it would detract from those things. In the end there were other folks, outside the core Greens, who kept urging me to run.