Civil Rights activist Clarence Henderson spoke Wednesday at the Republican National Convention, drawing on his own history of peacefully protesting decades earlier.
Henderson detailed his own protest at the Woolworth lunch counter, then explained why what he experienced had led him to the Republican Party and President Donald Trump. (RELATED: All The Highlights You Need From RNC Night 3, Plus What To Expect Thursday)
“The simple act of sitting at a lunch counter could lead to physical harm, jail time, or worse,” Henderson began. “Walking into the Woolworth Department Store on February 2, 1960, I knew it was unlike any day I’d experienced before. My friends had been denied service the day before because of the color of their skin. We knew it wasn’t right. But when we went back the next day I didn’t know whether I was going to come out in a vertical or prone position … in handcuffs or on a stretcher — or even in a body bag.”
Henderson then explained that he understood that some injustices demanded action. “By sitting down to order a cup of coffee, we challenged injustice,” he said. “We knew it was necessary. But we didn’t know what would happen. We faced down the KKK. We were cursed at and called all kinds of names. They threatened to kill us. And some of us were arrested.”
Clarence Henderson, a civil rights hero from the 1960 Greensboro Woolworth sit-in, is speaking now. He’s been a Republican for some time now; the first GOP President he voted for was George W. Bush. pic.twitter.com/uTB246mJu2
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 27, 2020
Noting that his actions — and the actions of others — had inspired an entire nation to fight injustice alongside them, bringing about the end of segregation and progress toward true equality.
“America isn’t perfect. We’re always improving. But the great thing about this country is that it’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going,” Henderson added. “I’m a military veteran and a civil rights activist. And you know what else? I’m a Republican. And I support Donald Trump. If that sounds strange to you, learn your history.”
Henderson spoke of the actions the Republican Party had taken — ending slavery, ensuring black men citizenship and the right to vote — and then turned to address the words of former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Joe Biden had the audacity to say if you don’t vote for him ‘you ain’t black.’ Well, to that, I say if you do vote for Biden, you ain’t smart!” Henderson concluded. “Donald Trump is not a politician. He is a leader. Politicians are a dime-a-dozen; leaders are priceless.”