Dalzenia D. Henry died January 12, 2008 at age 49. She had been recovering from the flu. Even though she didn't feel well, Dalzenia went in to work at the Children's Center that day. All at once, she stopped breathing and collapsed. She never made it back home.
The shock was deep at her workplace where she was president of her AFSCME local, and in the community where she had spent years directing an after school "youth diversion" program at Quinnipiac Terrace, New Haven, Connecticut.
At the time, Dalzenia Henry was in the midst of preparations for the 34th annual People's World African American History Month celebration She put her energy and creativity into these celebrations so people would be "educated, entertained and motivated ... This should sustain you to go out into the community and fight the battles we have yet to win," she would say.
As one of the delegates who traveled from Connecticut to St. Louis, Missouri in August 2007 to attend the African American Equality Conference of the Communist Party USA, Dalzenia was committed to take on a larger leadership role.
As part of an effort to end the violence in the community, the high school competition was launched to coincide with the African American History Month celebration. It is now named for Dalzenia and her mother Virginia, a leader of Local 35, service and maintenance workers union at Yale, who died a year later.
Dalzenia was a deep thinker. She understood the interconnections of exploitation, racism and war. She was not afraid to stand up for her beliefs, and was proud to be a member of the Communist Party USA.
Despite the difficult economic problems she faced, often working several low-wage jobs, she found the time to participate and raise consciousness in her neighborhood.
When the Housing Authority cut the after-school program she directed, the children wrote a petition and showed up at a meeting of the Board of Directors. The program was extended for an extra six months.
Dalzenia Henry served as a Commissioner on the City of New Haven Peace Commission. She was a candidate for State Legislature on the Tax the Rich line in 1992. She participated in many long bus trips to Washington DC for peace, jobs and justice marches and rallies.