Civil rights leader in El Paso County dead at 67

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Henry Allen while serving as president of the NAACP local chapter.

File Photo

When the Indy profiled Henry Allen Jr. a decade ago after he was elected to head the Colorado Springs branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), we quoted him saying, “As long as you believe in the civil rights of all people, you can be a part of the NAACP. It’s not based on what the color of your skin is; it’s what your belief is.”

That comment embodies Allen’s approach to fighting for civil rights, which also led him to become the president of the board of the Pikes Peak Southern Christian Leadership Conference (PPSCLC).


Allen, born July 16, 1955, died Oct. 28 after a long illness.

After he served 24 years in the Army, he worked many years at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO), first as a security technician, and then as a deputy, a tribute to Allen by the PPSCLC said. He retired from the EPSO in 2011.

In 2007, Allen was appointed director of security with Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, and in 2008 he was ordained as a deacon.

He was a longtime member of the NAACP and served in leadership roles, including the chairman of the Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committee and chairman of Legal Redress for the local branch and the State Conference, which consists of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

In 2013, he was elected as president of the NAACP’s Colorado Springs Branch, serving until February 2016.

Demonstrating his civic awareness, Allen helped promote the city’s new bus routes in 2014, and he was known to attend court hearings for Black youths charged with crimes. He told the Indy in an interview years ago that while he sees a young man who got into an argument, the authorities see a Black man who deserves criminal prosecution.

Allen also testified against the death penalty at the state Legislature, and the local chapter, with Allen at the helm, worked with the Colorado Springs Police Department on diversity and sensitivity training.

He represented the local branch of the NAACP in attending the funeral, in 2014, of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. He also attended President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union Address in 2015, a guest of Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colorado.

In February 2016, Allen set up a local branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “I am not convinced that this community will have an active, viable, credible, committed civil rights organization,” he said at the time, according to the SCLC. “And therefore, thousands of people in our community will not have a voice. I believe the SCLC can be that voice.”

Allen in 2012 when he vowed to reach out to the community to advance civil rights.

Bryan Oller

While he was serving as the local NAACP leader, a man ignited a pipe bomb outside the NAACP’s offices. No one was injured, but the incident led Allen to tell reporters, “Apparently, we’re doing something correct. Apparently, we have gotten someone’s attention that we are working toward civil rights for all. That is making some people uncomfortable.”

According to reports, Allen’s remains will be interred in his birth state of Arkansas. He and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Caron Allen, have a blended family of seven adult children, 21 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, the SCLC tribute said.

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