David was a founder of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and has been an active member of New York's Lower East Side art community for more than four decades. In 1962 Henderson, along with other black writers, founded the Society of Umbra. Henderson has published four volumes of poetry, and his work has appeared in numerous literary publications and anthologies. Henderson spent more than five years researching, conducting interviews, and writing Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child of the Aquarian Age. Originally published in 1978, it was condensed and revised as Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky in 1981. A new expanded edition was published in Britain in 2003 and scheduled for American publication in 2006 as Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky--Jimi Hendrix, Voodoo Child.
Although his poetry and writings may be described as being reflective of personal experience, popular culture and the emotional consciousness within American society and it's diverse cultures, Henderson's later poems signaled his move toward jazz poetry. He described this as "the language of the man of the moment; it's improvised; it's street language...African 'talking drums'--the basis of jazz--were one of the world's first mass communications systems. People related to those rhythms in a unified way." His poems frequently portrayed jazz musicians such as Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, and he began performing on jazz recordings. In 1971 he recorded with the avant-garde saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Henderson wrote the lyrics to composer and pianist Sun Ra's Love in Outer Space and recorded with Sun Ra as well with saxophonist David Murray and Butch Morris.