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Mabel Evans Cason
Mabel Cason was born on this date in 1918. She was a Black educator and activist.
Mabel Evans was born in Terre Haute, Ind., and was raised learning racial justice from her parents. Her mother, Grace Wilson Evans, was a leader in the 1940s American Civil Rights effort, and her father was Frederick Evans. Young Evans was one of five children with two brothers (Frederick and James) and two sisters (Josephine and Harriet). At age 15, she graduated from high school and received degrees from Indiana State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Columbia University.
Evan’s career began in food science and nutrition; she once chaired the nutrition department at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and was a foods professor at Tennessee A&I University in Nashville before turning to secondary education.
In 1961, Evans moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she became a home economics teacher and taught at St. Paul's Wilson Junior High School. She later became associate director of Personnel of the St. Paul Public Schools, responsible for bringing many Black teachers into the school system. She was also the nutrition chairwoman for the Minnesota Home Economics Association in the 1960s, but soon, her leadership skills were needed in the civil rights movement. Cason was appointed to the St. Paul Civil Rights Board in October 1967.
She was also a state representative for the NAACP. She married Louis Cason of St. Paul, a 3M manager and chemist; they eventually divorced in the 1970s. Evans Cason held offices in the AARP and Alpha Kappa Sorority and was a past president of the St. Paul Chapter of the Links, Inc. While serving these organizations, she was active in the community, usually on behalf of children. With the Links, Cason raised money for summer camps for children with Sickle-Cell Anemia; she attended the camps and put on a carnival for them.
Cason was appointed to the State of Minnesota’s Board of Education in 1988 as the board's only Black member. In 1991-92, Cason was named Twin Citian of the Year by Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine. She said: “As long as the children need me, I’ll be there, and unless we mess up their minds and visions of the future as adults, they are our hope for the future.”
Cason was known for card-playing in multiple bridge groups and being skilled at a hand or two of poker. When she turned 80, Evans Cason hosted her birthday party, inviting several hundred of her "dear friends," her term of endearment for people who supported her throughout her life. Witty, intelligent, energetic, loving, and generous, Mabel Cason died on June 28, 2004; she was 85.