Civil Rights

Aaron Henry

Aaron Henry was an American civil rights leader and politician. He was born on July 2, 1922, in Dublin, Mississippi, and passed away on May 19, 1997, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Henry was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and played a significant role in advancing the rights of African Americans in Mississippi and beyond.

Henry began his activism in the 1950s as a leader in the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL). He organized boycotts and economic initiatives to combat racial discrimination and encourage economic self-sufficiency in the Black community. In 1962, he became the president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), where he worked tirelessly to register African American voters and challenge segregation laws.

Aaron Henry at the MFDP Convention Challenge, August 1964

As an influential civil rights leader, Henry played a crucial role in organizing and participating in protests, marches, and voter registration drives. He endured threats, violence, and arrests but remained committed to the struggle for equality. Henry was instrumental in the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which challenged the all-white delegation from Mississippi at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. In addition to his civil rights work, Henry ventured into politics. He served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968, 1972, and 1976. In 1979, he was elected to the Mississippi State Senate, becoming the first African American to serve in that position since Reconstruction. He held the office until his retirement in 1996.

Aaron Henry (center) seated at the 1964 Democratic National Convention held in Atlantic City.

Aaron Henry’s legacy as a civil rights leader and advocate for social justice is significant. His courage, determination, and commitment to the fight for equality helped bring about positive change in Mississippi and inspire others in the struggle for civil rights. He is remembered as a trailblazer who dedicated his life to challenging racial injustice and empowering marginalized communities.

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