Carney: Earlier … at the time of Freedom Riders and lunch counter sit-ins down south in the late fifties … we had a Woolworth's on Main Street. It's where the California Museum of Photography (CMP) is. A grand, marvelous old building. Beautiful building, beautiful example of art deco architecture.
Some local NAACP chapter decided it would be good if the Riverside Woolworth's lunch counter would be desegregated, you know, Blacks would be served there. The leadership in that came from a young man, a student at UCR, a student named Henry Ramsey.
Erickson: Oh, my goodness.
Carney: He was a former student of mine and now a good friend. Henry, as you know, is now Dean of the Law School at Howard University. He was a Superior Court Judge in Alameda County in the 1960s 1970s as one of Jerry Brown's first appointments to the bench. A stupendous figure and growing still in stature is Henry.
In any case, Henry was a rough young student at that time and didn't have the polish that he does now. He didn't dress the way he does now and didn't have all that elegance and charm and smoothness that he has now. But he was intelligent and articulate, and he started a one-man picket of the Woolworth's.
Carney: They said that they would serve anybody who came up after Henry began to picket.
Even after they served, Henry continued to picket because he wanted to draw attention to what was happening in the south. That caused a lot of people to dislike him. They said, "You can go up there and buy a cup of coffee. Why do you continue to do this?" And Henry said, "It's the principle. I want Woolworth's to desegregate their southern lunch counters."
I remember that my daughters, my young daughters, Susan and Diane, knew Henry and liked him and wanted to do something. So, they picketed with Henry one day, carrying signs, the two little girls picketing with Henry. A white man, burly man came out of the store and saw Henry and the two girls and began yelling at Henry. Henry calmly … The guy spit in Henry's face. Henry calmly wiped it off and said, "That's not going to stop me. That's not going to stop me from picketing. I have a right to do this, and our cause is the right cause. And you should be supporting me, not denouncing me." They continued to picket and the guy walked away. I never forgot that.