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Clarksdale in Coahoma County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Aaron Henry

 

—Mississippi Freedom Trail —

 
Aaron Henry Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
1. Aaron Henry Marker (Front)
Inscription.
Front
Aaron Henry, (1922-1977), Clarksdale pharmacist, was a major early grassroots activist in the civil rights movement. As local NAACP president, he led the early 1960s Clarksdale boycott campaign, during which he was arrested and his home and pharmacy were firebombed. At the 1964 National Democratic Convention, he headed the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation, challenging the seating of the all-white delegation. Later, as a Mississippi legislator, he worked to build a strong, interracial state Democratic Party.

Rear
Aaron E. Henry, born a sharecropper's son July 2, 1922, was a prominent Clarksdale pharmacist and an influential early civil rights activist. On this site stood Fourth Street Drug Store, which Henry owned with white Mississippian K. W. Walker.

As an early Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) board member, Henry became closely allied with its leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1959 Henry became president of the state NAACP, which he led effectively for a third of a century, becoming close friends with NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers.

A 1960s Clarksdale boycott and direct action campaign won Henry national attention; Henry's home and pharmacy were firebombed, his wife fired from her teaching job in a Clarksdale school.
Aaron Henry Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
2. Aaron Henry Marker (Rear)
After his arrest, Henry was assigned demeaning work on a garbage truck, but his performance of those duties only increased respect from his community. Henry worked to implement Head Start programs and improve housing and health service for black citizens. He was also a founder of COFO (Council of Federated Organizations), the umbrella organization for movement activities, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).

In November 1963, Aaron Henry was the "Freedom Democrats" candidate for governor in a symbolic election; he was deemed the only person who could garner support from the black middle class and black militants. In 1964 he led the MFDP delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, challenging the seating of the all-white Mississippi delegation. When Lyndon Johnson proposed a "two-seat" compromise, seating only Henry and co-chair Ed King, the MFDP rejected the proposal. Henry and King, however supported it. As a result of the MFDP challenge, an integrated Democratic delegation from Mississippi was seated at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, with Aaron Henry and Hodding Carter as co-chairmen.

Henry served in the Mississippi Legislature 1979-1995 and as co-chair of the Democratic Party. A lawsuit he filed let to reapportionment and the 1980 election of a dozen more black representatives. As state representative
Photos from rear of marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
3. Photos from rear of marker.
Click on photo for closeups
he called for the reopening of the murder cases of Medgar Evers and Vernon Dahmer, and he protested proposals to close two historically black colleges in the state. Aaron Henry died May 19, 1997.
 
Erected 2014 by the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division. (Marker Number 16.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Freedom Trail marker series.
 
Location. 34° 11.918′ N, 90° 34.297′ W. Marker is in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in Coahoma County. Marker is at the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Ashton Alley, on the right when traveling west on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 213 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Clarksdale MS 38614, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. Aaron Henry (here, next to this marker); The New World (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sam Cooke (about 300 feet away); First Baptist M.B. Church (about 400 feet away); Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival (about 800 feet away); Delta Blues Museum (approx. 0.2 miles away); Big Jack Johnson (approx. 0.2 miles away); Wade Walton (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Clarksdale.
 
Also see . . .
Aaron Henry (seated at center) at the 1964 Democratic National Convention image. Click for full size.
By Public Domain, August 22, 1964
4. Aaron Henry (seated at center) at the 1964 Democratic National Convention

1. Wikipedia article on Aaron Henry. (Submitted on October 29, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Aaron Henry: A Civil Rights Leader of the 20th Century. (Submitted on October 29, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil RightsPolitics
 
View from marker east on Martin Luther King Boulevard image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
5. View from marker east on Martin Luther King Boulevard
Aaron Henry plaque at foot of Freedom Trail marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
6. Aaron Henry plaque at foot of Freedom Trail marker.
Stores across street from marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
7. Stores across street from marker.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 169 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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