The Greensboro Six markers, Greensboro
Two memorial markers to the Greensboro Six are located at Gillespie Golf Course. The first one placed in 2017 by Dr. Robert Langenfeld is a rectangular plaque of aluminum attached to a short metal pole. A photo of the six men is centered near the top. The inscription lettering is raised and against a black background. The second plaque to the Greensboro Six was placed by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission in 2022. It is a rectangular plaque of steel or iron attached to a metal pole. The inscription lettering is raised and in black against a white background. The border and pole are in pink or light red. A circle at and extending from the top, shows the logo of the North Carolina Civil Rights Trail. The markers are a short distance apart at either side of the entrance to the clubhouse.
Images: Plaque by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission placed in 2022 | Gillespie Golf Course clubhouse | View towards the golf course
THE GREENSBORO SIX / PHILLIP COOKE SAMUEL MURRAY ELIJAH HERRING / JOSEPH STUDIVENT DR. GEORGE SIMKINS, JR. LEON WOLF / ON DECEMBER 7, 1955, THE GREENSBORO SIX IN THE SPIRIT OF WHAT ROSA PARKS DID A FEW DAYS BEFORE IN / MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, REFUSING TO GIVE UP HER SEAT ON A CITY BUS, INITIATED THE DIFFICULT PROCESS OF / INTEGRATING GILLESPIE GOLF COURSE WITH AN ACT OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.
GILLESPIE PARK, 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. THE GREENSBORO SIX / DEFIED THE ATTENDANT IN THE PRO SHOP, EACH PUTTING HIS 75 CENTS ON THE COUNTER AND TEED UP. THE HEAD / PRO, MR. EDWARDS, CAUGHT UP WITH THEM ON THE FIFTH HOLE THREATENING TO HAVE THEM ARRESTED. THEY / FINISHED NINE HOLES, WERE ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH TRESPASSING, WHICH CARRIED A SENTENCE OF 30 DAYS IN / JAIL. BAIL WAS POSTED, AND THE STRUGGLE MOVED TO THE COURTS, EVENTUALLY ARGUED BEFORE THE UNITED / STATES SUPREME COURT (OCTOBER 1959).
THE GREENSBORO SIX WANTED THURGOOD MARSHALL, THEN CHIEF COUNCIL FOR THE NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE / FUND, TO REPRESENT THEM. MARSHALL DECLINED, COMPLAINING IF THEY HAD GOTTEN AN INJUNCTION THEY / COULD WIN. HE PREDICTED THEY WOULD LOSE. JUSTICE TOM C. CLARK WOULD BE THE KEY VOTE. THEY LOST 5-4 / (JUNE 1960). CHIEF JUSTICE EARL WARREN WROTE THE DISSENTING OPINION. NORTH CAROLINA’S GOVERNOR / LUTHER H.HODGES LATER COMMUTED THEIR SENTENCES.
DUE TO A RELATED FEDERAL CIVIL COURT DECISION, SIMKINS ET AL. V. CITY OF GREENSBORO, GILLESPIE WAS TO / BE INTEGRATED. THE DAY BEFORE THAT WAS TO HAPPEN THE CLUBHOUSE WAS TORCHED. THE CITY COUNCIL VOTED / TO ABANDON ITS INVOLVEMENT AND SOLD THE PROPERTY WHERE NINE OF THE 18 HOLES WERE LOCATED.
ON DECEMBER 7, 1962 A NEW CITY COUNCIL VOTED TO REOPEN THE 9 REMAINING HOLES OF GILLISPIE GOLF / COURSE TO ALL GREENSBORO RESIDENTS.
GREENSBORO IS A BETTER PLACE FOR WHAT THE GREENSBORO SIX DID. SO IS OUR COUNTRY. / - PLAQUE DONATED TO THE CITY OF GREENSBORO PARKS AND RECREATION BY ROBERT LANGENFELD, 2017
2022 Marker inscription: NC CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL / GREENSBORO 6 / ON DEC. 7, 1955, SIX BLACK / MEN TEED UP AT WHITES-ONLY / GILLISPIE GOLF COURSE. ACT / OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE PAVED / WAY FOR 1962 INTEGRATION. / NC AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE COMMISSION / WILLIAM C. POMEROY FOUNDATION 2022 11
Gillespie Golf Course, City of Greensboro
36.048800 , -79.783700 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
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
“Greensboro Six, December 7, 1955” North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, (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
“The Greensboro Six and Gillespie Golf Course,” University of North Carolina-Greensboro, (accessed August 13, 2023) Link
2017 marker: Dr. Robert Langenfeld. 2022 marker: North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and the William C. Pomeroy Foundation.
The Gillespie Park, city-owned golf course was operated as a private facility by a group of white citizens who leased it for $1 annually. Play was restricted to so-called members and their quests to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that in essence said separate accommodations for blacks were inherently unequal. 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 began to play golf 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 swimming pools and other facilities. By the early 1960s a group of new politicians on the city council reversed 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.
The historic markers are located in front of the Gillespie Golf Course located at 306 E. Florida Street, Greensboro NC.
The markers stand on the lawn in front of the golf clubhouse.