In 1964, Hawkins recalls, “Reagan’s running against Fair Housing in California. We had a fair housing law, and it got repealed in a Reagan-led charge, so I knew the Republicans were not for the people and not for civil rights.
“And then the Democrats had a chance to get me when the freedom democrats from Mississippi said ‘Seat us instead of the segregationists.’” said Hawkins. “But Johnson and Mondale and Humphries seated the segregationists, so I said, ‘Where’s my party?’”
From there, Hawkins decided to take his political fate into his own hands, which led him to co-found the Green Party in 1984, after he and his colleagues were inspired by the election of 25 members of the German Green Party to the German Parliament.
He has since worked both in and out of the spotlight to promote Green Party values as part of more than 30 political campaigns, including 18 candidacies.
Despite his many campaign losses, Hawkins continues to fight the fight because he strongly believes that the general population of the state is suffering unnecessary hardship while the wealthy receive lenience.
“No one’s going to speak up for us like us,” Hawkins said. “That’s why we need independent politics by the working people in this country.”
In 2010, he was named co-chair of the newly-formed Green Party of New York. That same year, Hawkins ran for governor and garnered enough votes to ensure the Green Party’s place on the ballot for the next four years.
While he has high hopes for his party’s long-term growth, Hawkins has what he believes to be achievable goals for the immediate future.
“The minimum goal is to get 50,000 votes so we can keep our ballot line for the next four years,” he said. “That way, we can get people elected to local office, mayors, town board members and school board members around the state. The next goal would be to get as many votes as any left-wing independent party in New York history. We’re hoping for 250,000 votes and 5 percent of the vote.”
Eventually, Hawkins has hopes that with continued growth, his party could one day produce an elected governor. And of course he harbors some hope that it could be him, and that this could be his year.
“But that would be like Jesse Ventura coming out of left field in Minnesota,” Hawkins said. “Either way, we are going to come out of this much stronger than when we went into it.”