Casey Hayden

Casey Hayden at Freedom Summer orientation, July 10, 1964, Herbert Randall Freedom Summer Photographs, USM

Sandra Cason ‘Casey’ Hayden (born October 31, 1937), was an American radical student activist and civil rights worker in the 1960s. Recognized for her defense of direct action in the struggle against racial segregation, in 1960 she was an early recruit to Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). With Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Mississippi Hayden was a strategist and organizer for the 1964 Freedom Summer. In the internal discussion that followed its uncertain outcome, she clashed with the SNCC national executive. Hayden’s vision was of a ‘radically democratic’ movement driven by organizers in the field. In defending grassroots organization she believed she was also advocating for the voice of women. In ‘Sex and Caste’ (November 1965), a reworking of an internal memo they had drafted with other SNCC women, Hayden and Mary King drew ‘parallels’ with the experience of African-Americans to suggest that women are ‘caught up in a common-law caste system that operates, sometimes subtly, forcing them to work around or outside hierarchical structures of power.’ Since regarded as a bridge connecting civil rights to women’s liberation, Hayden describes its publication as her ‘last action as a movement activist.’ In the decades since, she has continued to acknowledge the civil-rights struggle of the era as the forerunner for women, and for all those, who have taken up ‘the idea of organising for themselves.’ … In a dramatic intervention at the National Student Association convention in Minneapolis in August 1960, Cason turned back a broadly supported motion that objecting to sit-ins would have denied support to the fledgling Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). ‘I cannot say to a person who suffers injustice, ‘Wait,’ And having decided that I cannot urge caution, I must stand with him.’ Among the delegates who, after a moments silence, gave her a standing ovation were SDS president Alan Haber, who, as she recalls, ‘scooped’ her up, and Tom Hayden editor of University of Michigan student newspaper. Stirred by her ‘ability to think morally [and] express herself poetically,’ he followed her into Haber’s new left-wing grouping. …”
SNCC: Casey Hayden (Video)
In the Attics of My Mind — Casey Hayden
Feminism and the Civil Rights Movement (1965), Casey Hayden and Mary King

SNCC workers, Dorie Ladner and Casey Hayden in Selma

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Civil Rights Mov., Feminist, SDS, SNCC, Tom Hayden and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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