Lola Hendricks, Civil Rights Activist   Leave a comment


Lola Mae Hendricks (née Haynes) (born December 1932) was corresponding secretary for Fred Shuttlesworth’s Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights from 1956 to 1963. She assisted Wyatt Walker in planning the early portions of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s involvement in the 1963 Birmingham Campaign during the African-American Civil Rights Movement.[1] She has two sisters (one deceased), two daughters Audrey Faye Hendricks(1952–2009) and Jan Hendricks Fuller, and one grandson Joel A. Fuller.

 Early life

Hendricks’ was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents were a coal-truck driver from LaGrange, Georgia and a domestic cook from adjacent Chambers County, Alabama. She and her sister both attended Ullman High School but Lola graduated from A. H. Parker High School in Birmingham. Lola then went on to study for two years at the Booker T. Washington Business College. She then took a job in a black-owned insurance company, married Joe Hendricks, and moved to the middle-class African-American neighborhood of Titusville in the segregated city.[2]

 Civil Rights Movement

The Hendrickses were members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). When the group was outlawed by the State of Alabama in 1956 she became one of the early members of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, joining at a mass meeting at Nelson Smith’s New Pilgrim Baptist Church where she was a member.[2] The ACMHR, led by Shuttlesworth, organized local boycotts and demonstrations as well as coordinating legal challenges to Birmingham’s segregation laws in the 1950s and 1960s.[1] Hendricks and her husband were the named parties in ACMHR-backed lawsuits to force integration of Birmingham city parks and to desegregate the Birmingham Public Library. She also served as the organization’s correspondence secretary, working from Shuttleworth’s office at Bethel Baptist Church from 1956 until the culmination of the Birmingham Campaign.[1] In December 1962 she traveled to New England as a field director for the Southern Conference Education Fund, raising awareness among Northerners about the realities of Southern segregation and soliciting donations of Christmas toys for movement members boycotting Birmingham’s department stores.[2]

In the Spring of 1963, Hendricks coordinated the practical office requirements and cultivated local contacts for the combined efforts of the ACMHR and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which Shuttlesworth had co-founded and which was chaired by Martin Luther King, Jr.. She worked directly with the SCLC’s Wyatt Walker during the campaign, helping organize support and logistics for marches and department store boycotts.[1]

It was Hendricks who applied directly to Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor for a parade permit for the first day of marches and was told “You will not get a permit in Birmingham, Alabama to picket. I’ll picket you over to the jail.”[3] At Walker’s urging she did not actively demonstrate and risk jailing, protecting her behind-the-scenes importance to the movement. Hendricks’ nine-year-old daughter, Audrey Hendricks (1952–2009), however, was the only child in her class to participate in the May 2, 1963 “Children’s Crusade” that brought national attention to Connor’s brutal tactics against demonstrators. She spent five nights in jail as minders got word out to her parents that she was safe.[4]

  Later life

Hendricks left her insurance company job in 1963 to join the newly-integrated Birmingham office of the Social Security Administration. She was hired originally as a filer, but was promoted to unit clerk before moving to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where she became a supervisor. She left in 1983 to care for her mother. In 1988 she rejoined the Social Security Administration where she worked until reaching retirement.[2] She continued to volunteer at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and in the mid 1990s she assisted the Birmingham Historical Society in researching movement churches and landmarks for National Register of Historic Places status.

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Posted February 29, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Civil Rights

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