Dr. George Simkins, Jr., Greensboro
The life-size bronze statue of Dr. George Simkins, Jr. stands on a finished double granite base. The sloped edges of the lower base section hold the inscription. Simkins is wearing his dentist’s smock and what appear to be dress slacks. He is positioned with his proper right forearm at a right angle to the body. The left hand is hanging to the side holding a letter from a federal appeals court noting his successful lawsuit against local, whites only, hospitals seeking physician’s privileges for black doctors.
Images: Letter from a federal appeals court | Close-up view of the statue | Base, left side inscription | Base, rear inscription | Base, right side inscription | Rear view of the statue | Rear side view of the statue | Far-off rear view of the memorial
Front Base: DR. GEORGE C. SIMKINS, JR.
Base, left side: GEORGE C. SIMKINS, JR. WAS A GREENSBORO NATIVE, A DENTIST AND FOR / TWENTY-FIVE YEARS FROM 1959 TO 1984, HE LED THE GREENSBORO BRANCH / OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE. / IN 1962, SIMKINS WAS THE LEAD PLAINTIFF IN A LAWSUIT THAT RESULTED IN THE / DESEGREGATION OF THE NATION’S PUBLIC HEALTH-CARE FACILITIES. IN 1955 HE, / CHALLENGED THE CITY’S RACIAL SEGREGATION OF A PUBLIC GOLF COURSE, WHICH / WAS OPENED FOR ALL TO PLAY IN 1962.
Base, rear: THE GUILFORD COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS / THE JOSEPH M. BRYAN FOUNDATION / SCULPTOR MARIA J. KIRBY-SMITH
Base, right side: GEORGE C. SIMKINS, JR. PLEDGED IMMEDIATE SUPPORT OF THE / NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED / PEOPLE FOR THE STUDENTS PARTICIPATING IN THE GREENSBORO / LUNCH-COUNTER SIT-INS IN 1960 AND WAS A STEADY VOICE FOR ENSURING / VOTING RIGHTS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS. HE CHAMPIONED THE DISTRICT / ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL IN A CAMPAIGN / THAT LASTED MORE THAN A DECADE. IT CONCLUDED IN 1983 WITH THE / FIRST MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS UNDER A NEW SYSTEM OF DISTRICT REPRESENTATION.
October 4, 2016
36.072350 , -79.793550 View in Geobrowse
Clayton, Ward. “More People Should Know How the Greensboro Six Helped Change Golf Forever,” Sports Illustrated, December 6, 2021, si.com, (accessed August 6, 2023) Link
DeCwikiel-Kane, Dawn. “As Pioneer in Civil Rights Lawsuits, Simpkins’ Statue Stands Near Court,” News and Record (Greensboro, NC), October 5, 2016
Markovich, Jeremy. “The Round of Golf That Changed Greensboro,” Our State, ourstate.com, (Greensboro, NC), July 31, 2018, (accessed August 26, 2023) Link
Ross, Helen. “Lasting Legacy: The Untold Bravery of the Greensboro Six Inspires Golf’s Next Legacy,” PGA Tour, pgatour.com, (accessed August 4, 2023) Link
Thomas, Karen Kruse, 2006. “Simpkins Vs. Cone,” NCpedia.org, (accessed August 4, 2023) Link
“Dr. George Simkins Jr. – Honored With Statue,” Greensboro Medical Society, greensboromedicalsociety.com, (accessed August 4, 2023) Link
“Greensboro Six, December 7, 1955” North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, (accessed August 4, 2023) Link
“Maria J. Kirby-Smith,” Maria J. Kirby-Smith, mjkirby-smith.com, (accessed August 4, 2023) Link
“Oral History Interview with George Simkins, April 6, 1997. Interview R-0018." Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Published by Documenting the American South, (accessed August 4, 2023) Link
“Short Stack,” News and Record (Greensboro, NC), October 10, 2016
“Simkins V. Cone,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed August 4, 2023) Link
“Statue Unveiled for Greensboro Dentist and Civil Rights Activist,” WFMY, October 4, 2016, (accessed August 4, 2023) Link
Guilford County and the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation
Dr. George Simpkins was a Greensboro dentist and community leader who served as president of the Greensboro branch of the NAACP for 25 years. He won several significant civil rights lawsuits in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Although his most noteworthy suit accomplished desegregation of health care systems throughout the United States, his rise to prominence in the movement for civil rights began with a game of golf. In the 1950’s, Greensboro’s Gillespie Golf Course was whites only, having been leased to a private company by the city to prevent blacks from playing on what had been a public course. The nearby, black only, Nocho Park Golf course was not well maintained and suffered from the stench of a city sewage plant. On December 7, 1955 a week after Rosa Parks had been arrested and several months after the murder of Emmett Till, Simkins and five other golfers bypassed Nocho Park and entered the Gillespie clubhouse. Being told they could not play they left the fee on the counter and teed off anyway. The golf pro and police followed while the men played nine holes and then left. They were all later arrested for trespassing, found guilty and the “Greensboro Six” sentenced to 15 days in jail. After appealing the sentence to the federal court level the sentence was overturned and it was ordered that the course be integrated. After the Gillespie clubhouse mysteriously burned, the city closed the course along with the one at Nocho Park and public swimming pools and other facilities. Simkins then joined the NAACP, becoming Greensboro chapter president in 1959. From this position Simkins successfully used the courts and local referenda to end discrimination in public housing, banking and city services and forced changes in the method of electing Greensboro City Council to a district system. This led to a group of new politicians on the city council reversing many of the previous policies on access to public space. On December 7, 1962, seven years to the day after the Greensboro Six played nine holes of golf, Gillespie Golf Course with a new clubhouse reopened to everyone. Two memorial plaques to these events now stand outside of the clubhouse.
The Simkins memorial is located near the entrance to the Old Guilford County Courthouse on the 200 block of W. Market St., in Greensboro, NC. Near the street, in the middle of the sidewalk, leading to the entrance is the Bain Memorial. Also nearby are Gertrude Weil Memorials. A short distance to the west, are memorials dedicated to Pfc. Phill G. McDonald, Guilford County Vietnam Dead, Iraq and Afghanistan War Dead, and Greensboro Millennium Gate.
The statue is surrounded by trees, seasonal plants, and benches.