Interview with Aaron Henry, February 10, 1964
Project: Who Speaks For The Negro? The Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project
Interview SummaryAaron Henry (1922-1997) was an African American civil rights leader and politician. Born in Dublin, Mississippi, Henry enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Hawaii. After serving in the Army, Henry attended college at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a degree in Pharmacy. In 1951 he co-founded the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) and in 1959 he became President of the Mississippi branch of the NAACP. Henry also participated in founding the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) and the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). From 1982 to 1996 Henry served as an elected member of the Mississippi House of Representatives. In this interview Aaron Henry describes his first experience with segregation as a child and becoming a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in high school. Henry mentions his experience with racism while serving in the military and describes organizing his local branch of the NAACP after getting out of the military. He addresses criticism of the NAACP and its legal-based approach to the civil rights movement. Henry describes his close friendship with Medgar Evers and the impact Evers death had on him. He discusses threats against his own life and the important role his family plays in keeping him active in the civil rights movement. Henry talks about the relationship of age and social class with involvement in the civil rights movement. He also discusses African American image and identity and assimilation into American culture. Henry describes white attitudes in the south toward African Americans and explains that he feels the racial problems of the South have prevented new employment opportunities in Mississippi. He discusses the trial of Byron de la Beckwith and also considers Gunnar Myrdal's proposal for reconstruction of the South after the civil war. In addition, Henry provides his views on the nonviolent philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the relationship between religion and nonviolence, and the lack of involvement of the Jewish community in Mississippi with the civil rights movement.
Interview LC SubjectAfrican American veterans African Americans--Civil rights African Americans--Cultural Assimilation African Americans--Employment--Mississippi African Americans--Mississippi--Relations with Jews African Americans--Race identity. African Americans--Segregation Beckwith, Byron de la--Trials, litigation, etc. Blacks--Race identity Civil rights movements--United States Civil rights--Law and legislation--United States Discrimination in employment--Mississippi Discrimination in the military Evers, Medgar Wiley, 1925-1963 --Assassination Henry, Aaron, 1922-1997 Henry, Aaron, 1922-1997--Interviews Jews--Cultural assimilation--United States King, Martin Luther, Jr. 1929-1968 Leadership Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Mississippi--Social conditions Myrdal, Gunnar, 1898-1987 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Nonviolence Race relations Race relations--Case studies Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) Segregation--Religious aspects Southern States--Race relations Voter registration--Mississippi Whites--Southern States
Interview RightsAll rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interview UsageInterviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Henry, Aaron Interview by Robert Penn Warren. 10 Feb. 1964. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Henry, A. (1964, February 10). Interview by R. P. Warren. Who Speaks For The Negro? The Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Henry, Aaron, interview by Robert Penn Warren. February 10, 1964, Who Speaks For The Negro? The Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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