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Henderson, Vivian Wilson


Educator and civil-rights leader Vivian Wilson Henderson was born in Bristol, Tennessee on February 10, 1923. Henderson earned his undergraduate degree from North Carolina College, followed by masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Iowa. He held teaching positions in Texas, North Carolina, and Tennessee before being named president of Clark College in Atlanta in 1965. In addition to teaching, Dr. Henderson published a number of works on the economic power of the black community. Dr. Henderson took an active role in the civil rights movement as an organizer of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, director of the Voter Education Project, and chairman of the Southern Regional Council’s executive committee. Always a powerful, yet conciliatory, voice in the civil rights movement, he advocated economic empowerment of blacks—but not at the cost of driving whites and other races from Atlanta. In 1971, Governor Jimmy Carter selected Dr. Henderson as co-chairperson of the Georgia Goals Commission to prepare for Carter’s reorganization of Georgia state government. Dr. Henderson remained active in teaching, leading Clark College, and supporting the economic growth of the black community until his death on January 28, 1976.