Civil rights pioneer and unabashed conservative Clarence Henderson had a central message for those gathered to hear him speak in Fayetteville, North Carolina, last week: Black voters should join the Republican Party.
He also told those at the Cumberland County Republican Women’s Club last Tuesday that “what the Democratic Party is most afraid of is conservative blacks,” the Fayetteville Observer reported.
Henderson was part of the famous Greensboro lunch counter sit-in movement in 1960 that led to desegregating them, and he has credited the GOP with backing equal rights for black Americans. In the iconic photograph below, Henderson is in the far right seat:
#OTD 1960 Four African American college students sat down at a segregated lunch counter at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, NC, & politely asked for service. They were Joseph A. McNeil, Franklin E. McCain, William Smith & Clarence Henderson. Shown here on 2nd day of sit-in. pic.twitter.com/zmZCdEWR0b
— MNHistoricalSociety (@mnhs) February 1, 2018
Now as president of the North Carolina chapter of the Frederick Douglass Foundation — which aims to increase the number of conservative Christian blacks in the Republican ranks — Henderson said the organization’s efforts also have seen success, the Observer reported.
What was Henderson’s path toward conservatism?
Henderson told the Miami Herald that he credits his father, a lifelong Republican, with altering his political path.
“My dad, with a third-grade education, said to me, ‘Well, son, you don’t know what the Democratic Party has done as far as blacks are concerned,’” Henderson told the paper.
More from the Herald:
He discovered the Democrats had created and enforced Jim Crow and the Republican Party was behind the constitutional amendments that abolished slavery, granted equal protection to freed slaves and gave blacks the right to vote.
He cast his first vote for a Republican presidential candidate for George W. Bush. Henderson, who ran a financial services business for more than 25 years before retiring a decade ago, said he respected Bush’s business background.
Where does he stand on President Donald Trump?
Henderson also has stood in support of Republican President Donald Trump, both during his campaign and after he took office — to the apparent chagrin of the mainstream media.
In this video a CNN host wondered why Henderson backed Trump in the wake of controversy over the president visiting the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum:
And prior to the 2016 election, yet another CNN host grilled the civil rights pioneer on his support for then-candidate Trump and appeared to attempt to educate Henderson on racism — but he was having none of it.
“I come from an era of time known as Jim Crow,” Henderson shot back, “and I know what racism is and what racism isn’t.” The grilling curiously — and abruptly — came to an end after that.
What is Glenn Beck’s connection to Henderson?
After Beck’s 2015 Restoring Unity rally in Birmingham, Alabama, the radio host shared that Henderson was one of the men marching next to him.
“I said, ‘Why are you doing this?’” Beck recalled. “He said, ‘It’s time. It’s just time. We have to come together or we’re going to tear each other apart.’ Isn’t that fantastic?”