Henderson Regrets Seeing Opportunity Wasted

Celebrating Black History/ 'Black Athletes Are Doing Better'

February 26, 1991|By Lem Satterfield

As a third-grader living in Georgia, Meade football coach Hayse Henderson was told by his parents not to look a white man in the eyes, but to look at his feet.

"But I refused. I was defiant," said Henderson, 42. "We lived on a sharecropper's farm and the owner kept telling my parents they'd better do something with that boy. I got a lot ofspankings."

Henderson is the last child of 18 by his parents, Alice and Dud Roosevelt, who were married when Alice was 13 years old and Dud was 16. Henderson later moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he attended Dillard Comprehensive High School.

Although Henderson was a state champion tennis player in Florida, he never had the chance to test hisskills against white players. The sport was segregated.

"We neverhad new books, only the used and abused ones from the white schools," said Henderson.

In 1971, Henderson graduated from the predominantly black Shaw University, where he majored in math. He got his firstcoaching job the same year at North Carolina's Garner Senior High.

A year later, Henderson took a job at Glen Burnie High. He spent 18years there, coaching a variety of sports, including football, baseball, softball, track and wrestling. This past fall, Henderson coachedhis first season of football at Meade. He also teaches math and science there.

"The thing that is most depressing is that I've done some marching (during the civil rights movement) and I've been spat on,"said Henderson. "The opportunities black kids have today -- the onesthey don't take advantage of -- are the same ones I fought for but never got. That angers me.

"They're spoiled with the $200 leather coats and the expensive shoes. But if they really had to work -- like pick beans and chop cotton with the sun beating down on their brains -- they'd appreciate things a lot better."

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