By Sabina Mollot
Even seven decades later, the fact that Stuyvesant Town was the site of an epic battle for racial equality is well known among the complex’s residents. It is, after all, hard to forget how members of the community first developed their reputations as fighters, warriors even against formidable opponents, when the cause is important enough.
What perhaps not everyone knows is that it was mainly 21 activist families who’d put their own leases on the line by demanding the landlord, then Metropolitan Life, de-segregate the complex and allow black veterans to move in. This activist group, the Committee to End Discrimination in Stuyvesant Town, was led by Lee Lorch, a mathematics professor who’d allowed a black family, the Hendrixes, to live in his apartment when he left to teach at Penn State. The late Lorch is still a well-known figure, at least by historians and local activists. But little has been said over the decades about the Hendrixes’ role in the story, specifically their quiet brand of activism, simply living their lives — albeit illegally — in Stuyvesant Town.
The members of the Hendrix family (Hardine, his wife Raphael and their son Hardine Jr.), like Lorch, are now deceased, Hardine Jr. having died before his parents in a car accident. Hardine, an army veteran, died in 1999 at the age of 78 and is now buried at Calverton, a brief bio on the website ancientfaces.com states.