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Crucial Conversations: Born into Jim Crow, Macon native reflects on protests then and now

Dorothy Henderson remembers the protests for civil rights, but she says she sees a difference in the current protests for equality

MACON, Ga. — Dorothy Henderson is a Macon native who lived through Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement.

Eryn Rogers spoke to her about the similarities and differences she sees between now and then as it relates to protests and the fight for equality. 

Eryn Rogers: Can you just talk about the mood in Macon when you were growing up, what was it like? 

Dorothy Henderson: Momma would go to rallies. They started boycotting Woolworth's downtown with the signs and marching in front of the stores. Then they decided, looks like we need to do more, so they did the boycott of the buses... Back then, we had some blacks and whites, but whites -- those that participated -- were getting ridiculed, but these kids now are in there together.  

Eryn Rogers: What do you think people can do today that maybe our parents grandparents, both black and white, missed the mark on in continuing this fight?  

Dorothy Henderson: That sounds so simple -- love. But love is important because love covers a whole lot of sins, so we need to reckon with one another and talk to one another, really talk, not just surface...It's hard because people have stuff so deep-rooted in them. Racism, prejudices, isn't something that people are born with. This is something that people teach you...I've experienced that. Certain areas in Macon, you couldn't go...The one my mother was in, the few achievements and the gains they made, I'm hopeful these kids will make an even bigger one because it's around the world. It's everywhere, and how can you deny it?

Eryn Rogers: As someone who marched in the Civil Rights and kind of saw the start of the journey towards equality, does what's happening today make you sad that your children, grandchildren are still fighting the struggle, or does it make you hopeful seeing a change, in a way? 

Dorothy Henderson: I think it's a double thing. I think it's sad what my parents had to go through, and the fact that we have to go through it again and again, but I'm hopeful because this is a whole new season, and there's a season for everything, and I'm hopeful that this is the season that these young people will lead and get to where they can say to their children, you got kids, you want to see the best for them. I'm hoping they'll be able to accomplish much more than they accomplished back then because for their children's sake, they need to.  

Eryn Rogers: What message would you give protesters today? 

Dorothy Henderson: Hate is not productive, so when you get out there and march, and when you get out there on the streets, on the front lines, you can't have hate in your heart. You've got to have a mission in mind. 


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