During our 50th Anniversary Celebration, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage will continue to dig deep into our collection to bring you significant stories of Mississippians from all walks of life.
Few individuals had more impact on the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi than Dr. Aaron Henry. The son of sharecroppers, Henry was born in Dublin, Mississippi and raised on the Flowers brothers’ plantation. Henry’s father trained to become a cobbler and moved their family to Clarksdale to provide better opportunities for his children to receive an education.
Henry excelled scholastically and would eventually own his own pharmacy. In 1951 he was a founding member of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. He joined the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP in 1954 and was elected President in 1959. His accomplishments are too numerous to name here, but Henry was on the front lines of every battled waged for equality in Mississippi throughout his life. He served as a member of Mississippi State House of Representatives from 1982 to 1996. He died of congestive heart failure in 1997. Please enjoy these excerpts from his COHCH interview conducted May 1, 1972.
1972 – Dr. Aaron Henry of Clarksdale joined the Mississippi Chapter of the NAACP in 1954. He explains how the organization’s shift towards integration angered the white community. Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, Henry promoted unity and equality for all Mississippians. He reflects on the need for racial reconciliation in a healthy and prosperous society.
During the long hot summer of 1964, three young civil rights workers went missing in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Henry recalls the search for Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, as well as his own brush with death.
As a civil rights activist, Dr. Aaron Henry listened to many inspirational speeches. He shares some of his favorite lines from newspaper publisher Hodding Carter and others.
PHOTO: Getty Images, John Dominis