AUSTIN, TX – Jan. 29, 2023
“As the New York Times noted, Casey truly was ‘a force in the peace and social justice movements,’” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “We are proud to be the home of her papers, which are an important addition to our extensive collections documenting this country’s human rights crusades of the 1960s and 1970s.”
Born Sandra Cason on Oct, 31, 1937 in Austin, Tx., she earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas in 1959. Her activism began while enrolled at UT. She engaged in civil rights education and protest, and participated in a successful sit-in campaign to desegregate Austin-area restaurants and theaters. She was a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and was a vocal supporter of and activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Her efforts with SNCC included one of the last Freedom Rides in 1961. She moved to New York City later that year and married fellow activist Tom Hayden. Cason moved to Mississippi in 1963 to work with SNCC, and she served as a strategist and organizer for 1964’s Freedom Summer.
Cason became a critic of sexism within the leadership of the social justice movements of the 1960s. She and activist Mary King wrote the highly influential essay, “Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo from Casey Hayden and Mary King to a Number of Other Women in the Peace and Freedom Movement,” which was circulated in 1965 and published the following year in the journal Liberation. That essay and Cason’s critiques of the misogyny that permeated left-wing activism were hugely important to the development of second-wave feminism.
She later established a commune in Vermont, the first yoga center in San Francisco, and worked for the city of Atlanta before moving to Tucson, Az., and creating Arizona Interfaith. She died on January 4, 2023, at the age of 85.
The Casey Hayden Cason Papers include material related to her activism while a student at UT, the Students for a Democratic Society, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and other movements for civil rights and women’s rights. Included are drafts, publications, video recordings, and correspondence (including letters from former husband Tom Hayden). The collection is now open to researchers.
New York Times Obituary, “Casey Hayden, a Force for Civil Rights and Feminism, Dies at 85”:
Cason’s self-written obituary was published by Rag Radio: