Clarence Henderson was part of the sit-in movement of 1960 that desegregated retail stores.
Civil rights pioneer Clarence Henderson visited Fayetteville on Tuesday to encourage black voters to join the Republican Party and to encourage the party to welcome black voters.
Henderson, who in 1960 was part of the sit-in movement in Greensboro that desegregated retail store lunch counters, is the president of the North Carolina chapter of the Frederick Douglass Foundation. He spoke before the Cumberland County Republican Women’s Club.
The Frederick Douglass Foundation seeks to grow the ranks of conservative Christian black Republicans, Henderson said, and it has had success.
“What the Democratic Party is most afraid of is conservative blacks,” Henderson said.
He also discussed the lunch counter protest at the Woolworth store in Greensboro.. Henderson was not one of the Greensboro Four who started the protest on Feb. 1, 1960, but he joined the effort on its second day.
“There’s not a person in this room that has not had defining moments in their life,” Henderson said. “Defining moments are not unusual. It’s what you do with those moments. That’s what defines you.
“For 18 years, every time I went into Woolworth’s, it defined me. Because I went in and saw, downstairs, two water fountains: One saying ‘colored,’ and one saying ‘white.’ ”
There were separate bathrooms, he said, and no one was doing anything about it.
“When you went upstairs, everything was equal except for the lunch counter, whereby we as blacks had to go to the rear and order our food to go, even though it cost the same amount,” Henderson said.
“So the question becomes: Why or when do you get sick and tired of being sick and tired?” he said.