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Thursday, June 13, 2024

N.C. Civil Rights Trail Marker dedication at Gillespie Golf Course

Courtesy Greensboro Parks and Recreation / August 29, 2023

Trail Marker speakers (L-R): Phil Fleishmann, Director of Greensboro Parks & Recreation; Miranda Clinton, N.C. African American-Heritage Commission: Sharon Hightower, District 1 GSO City Councilmember, Chris Simkins, son of the late Dr. George Simkins and Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan. Photo by Joe Daniels/Carolina Peacemaker.

Chris Simkins receives a plaque in honor of his late father, George Simkins Jr., from Edgar C. Zimmerman, principal of George C. Simkins Jr. Elementary School. Photo by Joe Daniels/Carolina Peacemaker.

The City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department dedicated a North Carolina Civil Rights Trail Marker at Gillespie Golf Course, Wednesday, August 23.

In 1955, six Black men – Phillip Cooke, Samuel Murray, Elijah Herring, Joseph Studivent, Dr. George Simkins and Leon Wolfe – played the course in defiance of the Whites-only rules. They were later arrested, convicted of trespassing, and ordered to spend 15 days in jail. The sentence was commuted by then Gov. Luther Hodges and the golfers were ordered to pay a fine. The actions of these six individuals holds a special place in golf and Civil Rights history, predating and likely influencing the lunch counter sit-ins for which Greensboro is well known.

After a series of court cases and appeals, a judge ordered the city to integrate the course. Before it could open to minority golfers, the clubhouse was burned. The city condemned the course. It didn’t open to all players for another seven years. A historical marker honors the “Greensboro Six,” and it will now join the state’s new Civil Rights Trail.

This dedication was made possible by the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The commission has been working since 2021 to dedicate 50 sites across the state as part of the North Carolina Civil Rights Trail.




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