Gillespie Park—then a city-owned course operated as a private facility by a group of white citizens who leased it for $1 annually—restricted play to so-called members and their guests. This tactic sidestepped a Supreme Court ruling that made it unlawful for a city-owned golf course to discriminate. The “Negro” course in Greensboro, Nocho Park, was separate but certainly not equal for several reasons, but especially because of the powerful odors that permeated it from the sewage treatment facility nearby.
On that December day, The Greensboro Six defied the attendant in the pro shop, who refused to let them register, each putting 75 cents on the counter, and they teed it up—indeed in more ways than one. It is said the head pro, Mr. Edwards, caught up with them on the fifth hole wildly gesticulating with a golf club, cursing, and threatening to have them arrested. They played on. That evening, a police officer arrested the six “dissidents.” Bail was posted and the struggle to integrate Gillespie was joined. (Appendix, See Figure 3. Greensboro Six after posting bail.)
That effort and the case of The Greensboro Six (charged with trespassing, a sentence of 30 days in jail) weaved their way through courts in our state. Middle District Court Judge Johnson J. Hayes of North Wilkesboro made a declaratory judgment. The lease of Gillespie Golf Course as a private facility was invalid. Judge Hayes ruled The Greensboro Six were unlawfully denied access to the course because of their race. It is said he planned an order to open all public courses to all citizens.
Adapted from an essay submitted with historical marker application by Robert Langenfeld
Image: The Greensboro Six
”Put Off Trial of Six Negros in Golf Case," (December 21, 1955).
Simkins v. City of Greensboro, 149 F. Supp. 562 Dist. Court, MD North Carolina 1957
City of Greensboro v. Simkins, 246 F. 2d 425 Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit 1957
Wolfe v. North Carolina, 364 US 177 Supreme Court 1960
“The Story of the Greensboro Six"
“African American Golf Exhibit Opens on North Carolina AT&T Campus"
“The Face of the Game: African Americans! Spatial Accessibility to Golf," by Ronald L.
Mitchelson, Michael T. Lazaro
"The Golfers: African American Golfers of the North Carolina Piedmont and the Struggle for
Access,” by Jess Usher
"Greensboro Civil Rights Movement: An Oral History," by Margaret Baxter
"’Greensboro Six’ Fought to Desegregate White Only Golf Courses”
"What You Should Know About the Greensboro Six"
"Greensboro Six took their fight to play Gillespie to the Supreme Court"
“Rebirth of a Legend: Gillespie"