Clarence Henderson is a North Carolina civil rights activist who is in the lineup of speakers on Wednesday night, the third night of the Republican National Convention. Henderson, who also supported Donald Trump in 2016, is a Republican and he has always been vocal about his support for that political party.
Henderson became known nationally as a civil rights activist in 1960 after a sit-in at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. On February 1, 1960, four Black college students — Ezell Blair Jr. (who now goes by Jibreel Khazan), Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain and David Richmond — sat at the lunch counter at the department store to protest racial segregation, becoming known as the Greensboro Four, Greensboro News & Record wrote.
As the outlet reports, when they were denied service, it launched a movement and every day, different students would show up and sit at the lunch counter until it became integrated. On the second day of the protest, Henderson joined the sit-in and was photographed with William Smith alongside two of the Greensboro Four, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain. The sit-in inspired major changes in the South and that photograph became an iconic representation of the civil rights movement. Here it is, with Henderson sitting on the far right:
Looking forward to hearing Clarence Henderson speak tonight at the Republican Convention. He is on the far right of this pic from the 2nd day of the 1960 Woolworths sit in. pic.twitter.com/7qpyyaxOa7
— Kelly Nash🎙️ (@KellyNashRadio) August 25, 2020
In addition to his civil rights activism, Henderson is also a veteran, having served in the U.S. Army, according to his website.
Henderson Is a Proud Republican & Was a Vocal Trump Supporter in the 2016 Election As Well
— GuilfordYRs (@GuilfordYRs) July 7, 2019
Henderson has been a Republican for quite some time, which he says is thanks to his father’s political stance. He told the Associated Press that he learned Democrats created and supported Jim Crow whereas Republicans gave Black Americans the right to vote, gave protections to freed slaves and the party was instrumental in abolishing slavery. He said the first time he voted Republican was for George W. Bush.
Henderson was a vocal Trump supporter last election. In a recent interview with Greensboro News & Record, Henderson explained that “Politicians are a dime a dozen, but leaders are priceless. Donald Trump is a leader. And he loves America.”
He said that he has been criticized for being a Black Republican, but as the outlet writes, “his fight for equal rights for Black people is not voided by the fact that he also believes in less government in the lives of individuals and the economic policies of the Republican Party.” In a 2013 interview with the Winston-Salem Journal, Henderson stated he believes in the right of all Americans to be “free of excess government,” the outlet wrote.
Henderson Rose to Fame After the Woolworth Sit-In in Greensboro, NC, & Continued to Be a Prominent Voice in the Civil Rights Movement Since
— Clarence Henderson (@gclarence1) June 29, 2020
The 79-year-old Henderson became an entrepreneur and is a public speaker, his website indicates. In May 2017, he was appointed the president of the Frederick Douglass Foundation for the State of North Carolina, according to the official foundation website.
Henderson’s bio on his own website indicates that he received the 40 Anniversary Sit-In Participant Award in 2000 and thirteen years later, in 2013, he was appointed chairman for the North Carolina Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. It also states that Henderson is very involved in fundraising and volunteer efforts in North Carolina:
Clarence has enthusiastically promoted excellence among youth by his volunteer work with the Boys Scouts of America, his fundraising efforts through various organizations to raise funds for North Carolina A&T State University and Bennett College, and his active participation in raising scholarship funds for graduating seniors at Dudley High School.