I fought for Civil Rights. It is offensive to compare it with the Transgender fight

Published May 20, 2016

by Clarence Henderson, Chair of NC Martin Luther King Commission, published in The Charlotte Observer, May 19, 2016.

Let us be clear: HB2 cannot be compared to the injustice of Jim Crow. 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.

Recently, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch compared HB2 to Jim Crow. 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. This comparison 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. I take this as a personal slap in the face because I was an active participant in the civil rights movement.

In 1960, I participated in the sit-in at the Woolworth Diner in Greensboro. As a student attending North Carolina A&T University, I experienced the cruel, vicious reality of segregation first hand.

No comparison

During the Jim Crow Era, we stared down the nozzle of firehoses, felt the piercing bite of police dogs, dangled from trees after being strung up by an angry mob, all because of the color of our skin. Our businesses were burned, churches bombed, communities destroyed, all because of the color of our skin. 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. All this and more took place after enduring 400 years of arguably the most heinous crime in history – slavery.

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.

It is a further insult that the left chooses to ignore the continued absence of African Americans at the top levels of corporate America including the companies that took a public stand against HB2. Look at their boards of directors and executive teams. Where are the African Americans? Women? Transgender people? To them, I say fix these problems in your own house.

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.

Clarence Henderson is chairman of the North Carolina Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. He lives in High Point.

May 20, 2016 at 10:56 am
Richard L Bunce says:

OH,OH! Progressive on progressive crime... wait until the Hispanics and Asian groups get in on this, they certainly have claim to their share of grievances over the tens of thousands of years of human history... we need a new phrase for this... Victimhood appropriation.

May 20, 2016 at 11:26 am
John Clark says:

Clarence Henderson makes some salient points as there are stark differences in the comparison, if one wishes to go down that road, of the Civil Rights Movement and the fight for equal rights for the LGBT community. I've made a parenthetical nod to the two equality efforts in letters to political leaders.

My purpose was not to say they were the same, as Mr. Henderson seems suggest, but rather the similarity is only in both were seeking laws for equal rights. Certainly, the transgender issue is not solely about bathrooms. To suggest it is, is to overlook the common ground that is shared by all efforts to achieve equality. I would hope we can follow Rodney King's behest..."Can't we all just gt along."

May 21, 2016 at 1:46 am
Norm Kelly says:

Yes, it is possible to all get along.

Just stop asking for special treatment. And when I don't want to give you special treatment, stop having the courts force me to treat you the way you want to be treated. You aren't any more special than anyone else, so stop trying to act like you are special. You ain't special.

How about you simply allow me to treat you like you are a you and not special. Special people deserve special treatment and benefits and favors and there are DARN few special people in the world. how many special groups can we accommodate without SOMEONE being offended and crying foul? eventually everyone will be special and everyone will be offended.

Stay home and be special to yourself. When you get out in the world, look around. You are just like everyone else and everyone else is just like you. So, no special treatment! Does anyone beside you care whether you put on pants or a skirt? No. So stop trying to claim your dress is special or your pants are special. Just cuz I put on pants instead of a skirt, I'm not asking for special treatment. Do you care that I put on pants? Of course not. Guess what. I don't care if you either do or don't put on pants. That's yours for you to care about. Once your out in the world, your just like me: a living, breathing, loving (i hope), caring (i hope) human being that should treat everyone around you like you want everyone around you to treat you. Not special. Not different. Just normal. Like people were treated before Charlotte overstepped their authority and started this whole issue.

(note: that is not a 'you' personal but a 'you' generic. no personal attack intended. please note the difference in 'you' usage.)

May 23, 2016 at 2:01 pm
Brian Harvill says:

While this "gentleman" may have his opinion, it should have been mentioned that he is in the minority of the leadership of the civil rights movement who have almost unanimously spoken the truth, LGBT civil rights ARE the same fight even though the target of discrimination may have changed. What is more likly is this person has become inured to reality, become the oppressor and has forgotten the experiences AND the struggle of ideals.

The movement for LGBT rights does not insult or detract from the experiences of 50 years ago, nor was the fight for black civil rights the first civil rights fight. The fight for civil rights is ongoing and only the faces change, this man would do well to remember that since his present attitudes only tarnish himself.