A man who appeared in one of the more famous photos from the 1960s fight for equal rights for African Americans, says that it is “offensive” and “insulting” to equate today’s demand for transgender status with the drive to win blacks equal treatment under the law.
Clarence Henderson was one of the four North Carolina A&T College students who sat down at a lunch counter of a Greensboro Woolworth’s in 1960 and demanded to be served. The iconic photo of the young men became one of the many touchstone images of the struggle for equal rights.
But today’s battles over transgender bathrooms, Henderson says, is nothing at all like living through Jim Crow and the two do not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.
Henderson opened his op ed at the Charlotte Observer with a stark assessment.
“Let us be clear: HB2 cannot be compared to the injustice of Jim Crow,” Henderson wrote. “In fact, it is insulting to liken African Americans’ continuing struggle for equality in America to the liberals’ attempt to alter society’s accepted norms.”
Henderson went on to remind his readers of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s absurd declaration that North Carolina’s traditional bathroom law, HB2, was somehow just like Jim Crow America. Henderson explains it simply saying, “Jim Crow laws were put into place to keep an entire race positioned as second-class citizens. HB2 simply says that men and women should use the restroom of their biological sex in government buildings and schools.”
It is “highly offensive and utterly disrespectful to those families and individuals who have shed blood and lost lives to advance the cause of civil rights,” he said. “I take this as a personal slap in the face because I was an active participant in the civil rights movement.”
Henderson went on to list all the oppressions blacks faced in the pre-1964 civil rights era. Blacks faced dogs, water canons, mobs, not to mention lynching and “400 years of slavery.”
“We had to drink at separate water fountains, shop at different stores and even had to sit at the back of the bus, all because of the color of our skin,” Henderson wrote.
Yet, transgender people today have faced no such hardships, the activist says.
In comparison, transgender individuals do not have to fight dogs, can shop anywhere and can use any water fountain. They are free to work, shop and ride the bus. And to my knowledge, they have not experienced 400 years of slavery and the ongoing fight for parity 151 years after emancipation.
His final words were cutting, indeed, not to transgender people but to Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch.
Loretta Lynch’s political pandering to arouse African American interest in what has been proven to be lukewarm support for the supposed Democratic presidential candidate is an obvious attempt to elicit an emotional response. You cannot pimp the civil rights movement.
Throughout my life, I have noticed that even smart people say dumb things. And you, Ms. Lynch, have once again proven me right. Well done.
Henderson clearly has no use for the radical transgender agenda.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org