Aaron Henry of Mississippi: Inside Agitator

 

9781557287595When Aaron Henry returned home to Mississippi from World War II in 1946, he was part of wave of Black servicemen who challenged the racial status quo. He became a pharmacist through the GI Bill, and as a prominent citizen, he organized a hometown chapter of the NAACP and relatively quickly became leader of the state chapter.

From that launching pad he joined and helped lead an ensemble of activists who fundamentally challenged the system of segregation and the almost total exclusion of African Americans from the political structure. These efforts were most clearly evident in his leadership of the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation, which, after an unsuccessful effort to unseat the all white, segregationist Democratic delegation at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, won recognition from the national party in 1968.

Aaron Henry, chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation, reading from a document while seated before the Credentials Committee at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Aaron Henry, chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation, reading from a document while seated before the Credentials Committee at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The man who the New York Times described as being at the forefront of every significant boycott, sit-in, protest march, rally, voter registration drive and court case eventually moved into political office. Aaron Henry of Mississippi spans his beginnings in a sharecropping family to his election to the Mississippi house of representatives in 1979, all the while maintaining the social-change ideology that prompted him to improve his native state, and thereby the nation. [Adapted from the publisher’s description.]

Credit: By Minion K.C. Morrison. Published by University of Arkansas Press, 2015.


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