Frankie Henry was literally pulled into the downtown sit-ins by Diane Nash, who had been attempting to protest at a downtown restaurant but the server assumed she was white. On her way home from tap dancing class, Henry was switching buses downtown when Nash, a stranger, asked her to participate in a restaurant protest. During the sit-in, a white woman burned Henry with a cigarette. Henry was arrested and spent two weeks in jail, causing her to fail out of Tennessee A&I (now TSU). A decade later, she was able to complete college and became a teacher. Henry was one of many young adults at the forefront of the Nashville Student Movement, the nonviolent foot soldiers who endured despicable treatment and precipitated changes that led to Nashville’s role as the first major city to desegregate its public facilities in May 1960.
Henry’s c. 1935 house on Maury Street was built by her father and brother, both stonemasons. It has recently been for sale and HNI fears it could be a prime candidate for tear-down in a rapidly redeveloping neighborhood.