In 1955, Phillip Cooke, Samuel Murray, Elijah Herring, Joseph Studivent, George Simkins Jr., and Leon Wolfe, all of whom were Black, went to Gillespie Golf Course — which was white-only at the time — paid their green fee, and played 9 holes. They were arrested and charged with trespassing. Their case went before the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decision would later lead to the course being integrated by 1962. Now, First Tee of Central Carolina is commissioning a mural in their honor.
A group of men who helped integrate Gillespie Golf Course in Greensboro, N.C. will soon be honored there with a mural, WXII12 News reported.
Six days after Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, a group of Black men took a stand at a Gillespie golf course, which was whites-only at the time, WXII12 News reported. They’re now known as the “Greensboro Six”: Phillip Cooke, Samuel Murray, Elijah Herring, Joseph Studivent, George Simkins Jr., and Leon Wolfe.
The men paid 75 cents each and teed off, WXII12 News reported. After playing nine holes, they were arrested and charged with trespassing. Their case went before the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decision would later lead to the course being integrated by 1962. Now, all these years later, a mural is being commissioned in their honor.
Seventy-three-year-old William Brown, whose been playing at the course for a few years, told WXII12 News this is something that’s long overdue.
“The Greensboro Six would have been happening when I was in grade school or early grade school,” Brown said. “What do I think about them? They’re heroes. They stood up for freedom when it was really hard to do it, in a place where it was hard to do it. Rather than integrate this golf course, some people chose to burn down the clubhouse. That’s what they’re fighting for. Because you know what? We’re people.”
First Tee of Central Carolina is commissioning the mural, WXII12 News reported. The mural will be created on one side of the First Tee building at Gillespie Golf Course. Ryan Wilson, the CEO of the organization, says people have pride in the Greensboro Six. He says what they did for the game of golf and for the country as a whole is a legacy that needs to be known and honored.
“The game of golf is this powerful tool that can create opportunities,” he said. “They created opportunities for everybody else to follow, and now the best thing we can do to carry on their legacy is continue to use the game of golf to create new opportunities.”
Brown said while the mural is a great tribute to the Greensboro Six’s legacy, it’s important people remember that what they did is about more than just playing golf, WXII12 News reported.
“I think it had a bigger hand in making this country more diverse than just golf,” he said. “It wasn’t really about playing golf at this golf course. It was about providing opportunities to you. Even though your skin was black.”
The mural is being funded by Wyndham, WXII12 News reported.
Wilson said the project will take place over the course of the next year as they get community input and search for an artist.