Prominent African American doctors, H.H. Creft, Perry Little, and George Simkins, forced the City of High Point to review its long-standing policy of segregated recreational facilities by playing golf at the Blair Park municipal course in December 1954. The City compromised by allowing African Americans access only to Blair Park beginning in March 1956 but maintained segregation at all other facilities. Noted as being the first planned protest against segregation in High Point, the doctors’ play at Blair Park was one of several challenges to segregated municipal golf courses taking place in North Carolina and across the South in the 1950s. Their
protest maintained pressure on local governments that had begun to gain a foothold in the court system with Brown v. Board several months earlier, and it also served as a catalyst for others in High Point to challenge accepted practices. Overshadowed by the 1960 student sit-ins, the doctors’ actions at Blair Park have been overlooked as an important step toward ending segregation in High Point.
Dr. Perry Little lived on East Washington Street in the same building as his dental practice. His brother-in-law, Dr. Hubert H. Creft, Jr., had his medical office also on Washington Street and lived a few blocks away on Underhill Street. First reported on January 4, 1955, Dr. Little, Dr. Creft, and a friend came to the course at Blair Park on Wednesday, December 29, 1954, and were told by the golf pro that they could not play. They left their greens fees on the counter and played nine holes. They returned on Friday, again left the greens fees, and again played nine holes. (The third player was Dr. George Simkins, a dentist from Greensboro, who led efforts to desegregate Gillespie Park Golf Course in Greensboro a year later, in December 1955.)
The High Point Enterprise reported on December 29 that three weeks earlier Dr. Creft had also attempted to play and been denied access. He was told in his discussions with City officials that “the city has no authority to allow Negroes to play golf at the course.” That very afternoon, the threesome ignored the golf pro and played nine holes. It was later reported that both Dr. Creft and Dr. Little had asked to play the course on several prior occasions and that similar occurrences had happened for three or four years and gone unreported. While City leaders were aware, the Mayor admitted when questioned that they had no plan of action.
A meeting was held with City officials and a “delegation of Negro citizens” prior to the monthly meeting of the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission, but no statement was made. City Council asked the Commission to make a recommendation and seemed to be holding off on making any decision. Much discussion about African Americans playing golf at a segregated municipal course then ensued—both in print and off the record, in official meetings and in “executive session.” While no decision would be made for over a year, the first official action came a few days later.
Adapted from an essay submitted with historical marker application by Marian Inabinett
Image: Blair Park, courtesy of visitnc.com
City of High Point, Official minutes of the City Council, August 9, 1929.
City of High Point, Official minutes of the City Council, February 21, 1956.
City of High Point, Official minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission, January 12, 1955.
City of High Point, Official minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission, March 31, 1955.
City of High Point, Official minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission, August 5, 1955.
City of High Point, Official minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission, November 23, 1955.
City of High Point, Official minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission, February 16, 1956.
City of High Point, Official minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission, May 11, 1956.
City of High Point, Official minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission, November 30, 1956.
City of High Point, Official papers, Blair Family Deed, July 26, 1930.
Hill’s High Point City Directory, 1954.
United States Census Bureau, North Carolina - General Characteristics, “Summary of Population Characteristics for the State (Urban and Rural), Standard Metropolitan Areas, Urbanized Areas, and Urban Places of 10,000 or More: 1950.”