Joe Hendricks

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Joseph Hendricks (born c. 1927 in Boligee, Greene County; died August 23, 2012) was a grocer and restaurateur, and a Civil Rights activist who served frequently as a bodyguard to movement leader Fred Shuttlesworth.

Hendricks was the 8th of 13 children born to a farming family. He left home at 16 to find work in Birmingham and lived with older siblings at Evergreen Bottom. For 28 years, Hendricks was employed by Western Grain, which was later bought by Jim Dandy. He was a leader in the plant's labor union, and was briefly terminated for his involvement in Civil Rights activities.

As one of Shuttlesworth's bodyguards, Hendrick's helped keep a watch over Bethel Baptist Church and the nearby parsonage. His wife, Lola, was Shuttlesworth's secretary. The couple were named in several lawsuits filed by Shuttlesworth's Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, including those that led to the desegregation of Birmingham's public parks and the Birmingham Public Library. In May 1961, Hendricks was among a group of men who drove from Birimingham to Anniston to rescue a group of Freedom Riders stranded by a terrorist attack there.

Hendricks and his brothers later opened the Hendricks Brothers Cafe and a connected grocery store in North Birmingham.

Hendricks, who had liver cancer, died in nursing care in 2012. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.


  • Faulk, Kent (August 27, 2012) "Joe Hendricks, body guard for Civil Rights leader, dies." The Birmingham News