SNCC Womens Statements — Disambiguation

In the mid-1960s, women active in Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) authored three historic and controversial documents related to women in the movement — and in society.

In November 1964, after Freedom Summer, SNCC held a major multi-day conference in Waveland MS to evaluate the summer project, assess SNCC, and chart its course into the future. To broaden and democratize decision-making, SNCC leader James Forman called on SNCC members to submit statements, criticisms, and proposals to the conference. Close to 40 papers — most signed, but more than a dozen anonymous — were mimeographed and laid out on tables for everyone to read, discuss, and debate.

SNCC Position Paper. Among the Waveland papers was SNCC Position Paper, a two-page document that noted and questioned gender inequalities within the organization. It was drafted by a number of women living at (or associated with) the SNCC Literacy Project house on the edge of the Tougaloo campus, including Elaine Baker, Casey Hayden, Mary King, Emmy Schrader, Jane Stembridge, and others.

A Kind of Memo. A year after the Waveland conference, in November 1965, Casey Hayden and Mary King wrote and circulated the four-page A Kind of Memo. Addressed to a number of SNCC women, it expanded on issues of gender and caste within American social movements and society more broadly than had the 1964 position paper. It raised questions of gender disparities coming out of activist experiences, and sought efforts at dialogue within the movement.

Sex and Caste. In April 1966, a version of A Kind of Memo titled Sex and Caste was published in Liberation, the War Resistor's League magazine. Public publication expanded the discussions and controversies beyond SNCC and other Freedom Movement activists into a broad range of progressive and radical social movements.

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