African American Public Relations Corporation

Exalting a positive image of African Americans

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Charlie Sifford, first Black Golfer on PGA

Charlie Sifford, first black golfer on the PGA Tour, dead at 92 

Sifford challenged the Caucasian-only clause and the PGA rescinded it in 1961. He won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 11:33 AM
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Charlie Sifford, who fought the Caucasian-only clause on the PGA Tour and became its first black member, died Monday night. He was 92.MARK DUNCAN/APCharlie Sifford, who fought the Caucasian-only clause on the PGA Tour and became its first black member, died Monday night. He was 92.
Charlie Sifford, who only wanted a chance to play and broke the color barrier in golf as the first PGA Tour member, died Tuesday night, the PGA of America said.
Sifford, who recently had suffered a stroke, was 92. Details of his death and funeral arrangements were not immediately available.
PGA of America President Derek Sprague called Sifford “an uncommon and faithful servant.”
“His love of golf, despite many barriers in his path, strengthened him as he became a beacon for diversity in our game,” Sprague said. “By his courage, Dr. Sifford inspired others to follow their dreams. Golf was fortunate to have had this exceptional American in our midst.”
A proud man who endured racial taunts and threats, Sifford set modest goals and achieved more than he imagined.
Sifford challenged the Caucasian-only clause and the PGA rescinded it in 1961. He won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. He also won the 1975 Senior PGA Championship, five years before the Champions Tour was created.
His career was fully recognized in 2004 when he became the first black inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Last November, President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only other golfers who received that honor.
“Charlie won tournaments, but more important, he broke a barrier,” Nicklaus once said. “I think what Charlie Sifford has brought to his game has been monumental.”
The one goal that eluded him was a chance to play in the Masters, which did not invite its first black player until Lee Elder in 1975. Sifford remained bitter, though the pain was eased when Tiger Woods won the first of his four green jackets in 1997.
Woods often has said he would not have played golf if not for Sifford and other black pioneers.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that without Charlie, and the other pioneers who fought to play, I may not be playing golf,” Woods said in an email to The Associated Press late last year. “My pop likely wouldn’t have picked up the sport, and maybe I wouldn’t have either.”
The road was never easy.
Charlie Sifford, who died Monday night at 92, won the Los Angeles Open in 1969.ANONYMOUS/APCharlie Sifford, who died Monday night at 92, won the Los Angeles Open in 1969.
Sifford was born on June 22, 1922 in Charlotte, North Carolina. He worked as a caddie and dominated the all-black United Golfers Association, winning five straight national titles. He longed to play against the best players, only to run into the same barriers that Teddy Rhodes and Bill Spiller faced — the Caucasian-only clause.
In his autobiography, “Just Let Me Play,” Sifford told of meeting Jackie Robinson in California about the time Robinson was trying to break the color barrier in baseball.
“He asked me if I was a quitter,” Sifford wrote. “I told him no. He said, ‘If you’re not a quitter, you’re probably going to experience some things that will make you want to quit.”’
During the 1952 Phoenix Open, one of the few events that blacks could play, Sifford found human feces in the cup when he got to the first green. He received death threats over the phone at the 1961 Greater Greensboro Open and heard racial slurs as he walked the fairways. He finished fourth, and didn’t quit.
He was beloved my some of golf’s biggest stars, including Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
During his induction ceremony, Sifford told of his first meeting with Palmer. They were playing in the 1955 Canadian Open and Sifford opened with a 63 to lead Palmer by one shot. He recalled Palmer standing in front of the scoreboard saying, “Charlie Sifford? How the hell did he shoot 63?”
“I’m standing right behind him,” Sifford said. “I said, ‘The same damn way you shot 64.’ That’s how we met.”
Sifford also received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland for his career as a pioneer.
He often attended the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, not far from his home in Ohio. During an interview with the AP in 2000, Sifford said he was proud of the role in played in making the PGA Tour accessible to blacks.
“If I hadn’t acted like a professional when they sent me out, if I did something crazy, there would never be any blacks playing,” he said. “I toughed it out. I’m proud of it. All those people were against me, and I’m looking down on them now.”

Friday, January 18, 2013

James Hood - University of Alabama

James Hood Dead: Man Who Defied Racial Segregation At University Of Alabama Dies At Age 70        

James Hood Dead

James Hood Dead: Man Who Defied Racial Segregation At University Of Alabama Dies At Age 70
By BOB JOHNSON 01/18/13 06:51 PM ET EST AP
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — One of the first black students who enrolled at the University of Alabama a half century ago in defiance of racial segregation has died. James Hood of Gadsden was 70. Officials at Adams-Buggs Funeral Home in Gadsden said they are handling arrangements for Hood, who died Thursday.

Then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace made his infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door" in a failed effort to prevent Hood and Vivian Malone from registering for classes at the university in 1963.
Hood and Malone were accompanied by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach when they were confronted by Wallace as they attempted to enter the university's Foster Auditorium to register for classes and pay fees.  Wallace backed down later that day and Hood and Malone registered for classes.

UA President Judy Bonner remembered Hood as a man of "courage and conviction" for being one of the first black students to enroll at the university.  "His connection to the university continued decades later when he returned to UA to earn his doctorate in 1997. He was a valued member of The University of Alabama community, and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time," Bonner said.

Hood was the last survivor among the major figures in the schoolhouse door incident. Wallace died in 1998, Vivian Malone Jones in 2005 and Katzenbach last year.

After enrolling, Hood remained at UA for a few months and moved to Michigan, where he received a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University and a master's degree from Michigan State.  He later moved to Wisconsin, where he worked at the Madison Area Technical College for 26 years. He retired in 2002 as chairman of public safety services in charge of police and fire training.
He finally returned to UA later in life to earn his doctorate.

Culpepper Clark, author of "The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation's Last Stand at the University of Alabama," called the schoolhouse door incident "an iconic moment" in the Civil Rights Movement because it provided a confrontation between Wallace and the Kennedy administration. He said the incident was "symbolically important" and helped lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Clark described Hood as a man with a lot of "intellectual energy" who understood the importance of what he did at the University of Alabama in 1963.  "He didn't try to make it into more than what it was," Clark said.

The Rev. Preston Nix grew up in Etowah County and said he knew of Hood, who was several years older than he.  Nix said it took a lot of courage for Hood to challenge the segregation at the University of Alabama in 1963.

Nix said he felt Hood did what he did partly to "pave the way" for others to be able to improve themselves and get a higher education and partly because he wanted to attend the University of Alabama.

Samory Pruitt, vice president for community affairs at UA, agreed with Nix.  "Because of what he did, people like me were afforded the opportunity to go to the University of Alabama," said Pruitt, who is black. "I think it's about people having the opportunity to be the best they can be."


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Mervyn M. Dymally, Who Broke Racial Barriers in California, Dies at 86

Lennox McLendon/Associated Press
Gov. Jerry Brown, left, with Mervyn M. Dymally, then lieutenant governor, in 1978. Mr. Dymally also served 12 years in Congress.
Mervyn M. Dymally, who broke barriers as a black lawmaker in California and in Congress after moving to the United States from his native Trinidad at age 19, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 86.
He had been in hospice care, his daughter, Lynn V. Dymally, said.
Mr. Dymally became California’s first black state assemblyman when he was elected in 1962, its first black state senator four years later and, in 1974, its first black lieutenant governor. In 1980 he became one of the first foreign-born blacks elected to the House of Representatives, where he served six terms representing Compton and other heavily black, low-income areas. He also led the Congressional Black Caucus for a time.
His success in winning office was rooted in his work organizing a new black Democratic base in areas around Los Angeles beginning in the 1950s and 1960s.
“This was a transformational period,” said Raphael J. Sonenshein, an expert in racial and ethnic politics in Los Angeles and the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. “Between 1958 and 1962, the Democratic Party really came of age in the African-American community in California,” he said.
The area’s minority population had long been marginalized, but as the political climate changed, it created opportunities for new leaders like Mr. Dymally, Mr. Sonenshein said.  “If you came in from the outside and were able to put things together, it was fertile territory,” he said. “He was a very effective organizational leader.”
Mr. Dymally’s rise partly paralleled that of Tom Bradley, who became the first black mayor of Los Angeles. But Mr. Bradley built a coalition from a rising black economic class and liberal whites; Mr. Dymally, by contrast, galvanized poor and working-class residents and labor unions. He worked to improve health care for the poor and sponsored legislation to lower the state voting age to 18 and to expand civil rights protections for women. As lieutenant governor under Gov. Jerry Brown, Mr. Dymally joined Cesar Chavez in trying to protect farm workers from automation, which was taking away jobs.
Mr. Dymally was often trailed by accusations of corruption, including that he took bribes, but he never faced criminal charges. In 1978, he was defeated while seeking re-election as lieutenant governor after a television news report that he was going to be indicted. The indictment never happened, and two years later Mr. Dymally was elected to Congress after two other candidates had split the white vote in a Democratic primary.
In 2002, a decade after he retired from Congress, he was elected to fill the same Assembly seat he had won in 1962. He served three terms and lost a 2008 bid for State Senate.
Mervyn Malcolm Dymally was born May 12, 1926, in Bonasse Village in Cedros, Trinidad. His father was a Muslim of Indian descent. His mother was a Roman Catholic of mixed racial heritage. He eventually made it to Southern California, where he graduated from California State University, Los Angeles, and later earned master’s and doctoral degrees at other schools. He taught special education in Los Angeles schools before entering politics.
Besides his daughter, Lynn, he is survived by his wife of 44 years, the former Alice Gueno; his son, Mark; three sisters, Marjorie, Courtney and Hazel Dymally; two brothers, Bing and Malcolm; and three grandchildren. A marriage to Amentha Isaacs ended in divorce.
Lynn Dymally noted that even as her father embraced the struggles of American blacks, his own racial identity was complicated. She said that his marriage certificate to his first wife lists him as Indian, but that his race is described as “Negro” on her United States birth certificate.  Late in his life, as California became more diverse, he told his daughter, “You know, it’s strange, people are now referring to me as of Asian descent.”
Ms. Dymally added, “He always considered himself black or African-American even though there were distinctive qualities about him that would have made some people think he was Indian.”

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Donald M. Payne

March 6, 2012

Donald M. Payne, First Black Elected to Congress From New Jersey,
Dies at 77


Representative Donald M. Payne of New Jersey, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and the first black to be elected to Congress from New Jersey, died on Tuesday. He was 77.

The cause was complications from colon cancer, according to Mr. Payne’s office. He died at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. Mr. Payne had disclosed in February that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer but said that he would not take a leave of absence and that he planned to seek re-election because his doctors expected him to make a full recovery.

Mr. Payne was a low-key and unassuming lawmaker who nonetheless made a mark in a number of areas, including education and global affairs.

A former teacher, he played a role in advancing policies that sought to make college more affordable. For example, he led efforts in Congress to cut interest rates on Stafford loans for college students and increase the size of Pell Grants, need-based grants for college of as much as $5,500 a year.

Mr. Payne had a deep interest in global matters too. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he worked to promote democracy and protect human rights overseas. He was the author of legislation that sought to provide famine relief to Darfur and bring an end to the bloody conflict there. He was also a founder of the Malaria Caucus in Congress and helped secure billions of dollars in foreign aid for treating HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Donald Milford Payne was born July 16, 1934, in Newark. A graduate of Seton Hall University, he held a number of positions in the private sector before entering politics, including serving as an executive at Prudential Insurance and Urban Data Systems. He was also a national president of the YMCA.

But he developed a passion for politics early. In 1972, Mr. Payne was elected to the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. A decade later, he won a seat on the Newark Municipal Council.

As early as 1974, Mr. Payne declared his intention to become New Jersey’s first black congressman, rather than run for mayor of Newark.

He achieved his goal in 1988. He was elected to Congress from New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District, a heavily Democratic area that includes sections of Essex, Hudson and Union counties, after Peter W. Rodino Jr., the longtime dean of the state’s congressional delegation, decided not to seek a 21st term. Mr. Payne had unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Rodino in primaries in 1980 and 1986.

Before his 1988 campaign, Mr. Payne said: “I want to be a Congressman to serve as a role model for the young people I talk to on the Newark street corners. I want them to see there are no barriers to achievement. I want to give them a reason to try.”

Mr. Payne was in his 12th term when he died. In several of his later campaigns, he ran without any Republican opposition.

He served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus from 1995 to 1997.

Mr. Payne, who was a widower, had three children, four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Robert L. Carter, an Architect of School Desegregation, Dies at 94
Associated Press

The lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. From left, Louis L. Redding, Robert L. Carter, Oliver W. Hill, Thurgood Marshall and Spottswood W. Robinson III.

January 3, 2012

Robert L. Carter, an Architect of School Desegregation, Dies at 94

Robert L. Carter, a former federal judge in New York who, as a lawyer, was a leading strategist and a persuasive voice in the legal assault on racial segregation in 20th-century America, died on Tuesday morning in Manhattan. He was 94.

The cause was complications of a stroke, said his son John W. Carter, a justice of the New York Supreme Court in the Bronx.

Judge Carter presided over the merger of professional basketball leagues in the 1970s and was instrumental in opening the New York City police force to more minority applicants. But perhaps his greatest impact came in the late 1940s and 1950s as a member of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., led by Thurgood Marshall.

Often toiling behind the scenes, Mr. Carter had a significant hand in many historic legal challenges to racial discrimination in the postwar years. None was more momentous than Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case that led in 1954 to a Supreme Court decision abolishing legal segregation in the public schools.

Mr. Carter’s well-honed argument that the segregation of public schools was unconstitutional on its face became the Supreme Court’s own conclusion in Brown. The decision swept away half a century of legal precedent that the South had used to justify its “separate but equal” doctrine. Mr. Carter and his underpaid, overworked colleagues at the Legal Defense and Educational Fund argued before the court that the South’s schools rarely offered anything like equal opportunities to black children. But that was beside the point in any case, they said. Segregation itself, they argued, was so damaging to black children that it should be abolished, on the ground that it was contrary to the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal rights to all citizens.

Mr. Carter spent years doing research in law and history to construct that legal theory before it reached the Supreme Court. Though aspects of segregation law had been struck down before World War II, Mr. Carter’s task was still daunting. His challenge was to persuade the Supreme Court to overturn, finally, a looming obstacle to equal rights, the court’s 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. That ruling upheld a Louisiana law requiring racial separation on railroad cars. The South used that decision to justify a wide range of discriminatory practices for years to come.

“We have one fundamental contention,” Mr. Carter told the court. “No state has any authority under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities among its citizens.”

Mr. Carter insisted on using the research of the psychologist Kenneth B. Clark to attack segregated schools, a daring courtroom tactic in the eyes of some civil rights lawyers. Experiments by Mr. Clark and his wife, Mamie, showed that black children suffered in their learning and development by being segregated. Mr. Clark’s testimony proved crucial in persuading the court to act, Mr. Carter wrote in a 2004 book, “A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Struggle in the Cause of Equal Rights.”

As chief deputy to the imposing Mr. Marshall, who was to become the first black Supreme Court justice, Mr. Carter labored for years in his shadow. In the privacy of legal conferences, Mr. Carter was seen as the house radical, always urging his colleagues to push legal and constitutional positions to the limits.

He recalled that Mr. Marshall had encouraged him to play the gadfly: “I was younger and more radical than many of the people Thurgood would have in, I guess. But he’d never let them shut me up.”

Robert Lee Carter was born in Caryville, in the Florida Panhandle, on March 17, 1917, the youngest of nine children. His family moved to New Jersey when he was 6 weeks old, and his father, Robert L. Carter, died when he was a year old. His mother, Annie Martin Carter, took in laundry for white people for 25 years.

Mr. Carter recalled experiencing racial discrimination as a 16-year-old in East Orange, N.J. The high school he attended allowed black students to use its pool only on Fridays, after classes were over. After he read in the newspaper that the State Supreme Court had outlawed such restrictions, he entered the pool with white students and stood up to a teacher’s threat to have him expelled from school. It was his first taste of activism, he said.

He attended two predominantly black universities: Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he enrolled at 16, and Howard University School of Law in Washington. He then went to Columbia University as a graduate student and wrote his master’s thesis on the First Amendment. He used parts of the thesis in preparing for the school segregation cases in the 1950s.

Mr. Carter joined the Army a few months before the United States entered World War II. His military experience made a militant of him, he said, starting with the day a white captain welcomed Mr. Carter’s unit of the Army Air Corps at Augusta, Ga. The captain, Mr. Carter said in his memoir, “wanted to inform us right away that he did not believe in educating niggers.” “He was not going to tolerate our putting on airs or acting uppity,” Mr. Carter said.

In spite of repeated antagonisms, Mr. Carter completed Officer Candidate School and became a second lieutenant. He was the only black officer at Harding Field in Baton Rouge, La., and promptly integrated the officers’ club, arousing new anger. He was soon transferred to a training base in Columbus, Ohio, where he continued to face racial hostility.

He left the service in 1944 and got a job as a lawyer at the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, then the legal arm of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (It later became an independent organization.) He had become Marshall’s chief deputy by 1948, and soon became active in school segregation cases, notably Sweatt v. Painter, in which the Supreme Court ruled in 1950 that the University of Texas Law School had acted illegally in denying admission to a black applicant.

Mr. Carter was also involved in housing discrimination cases, the dismantling of all-white political primaries in several Southern states and the ending of de facto school segregation in the North.

Mr. Carter was disappointed when Marshall passed him over and chose a white staff lawyer, Jack Greenberg, to succeed him as director-counsel of the fund in 1961. Mr. Carter moved to the N.A.A.C.P. — by then a separate entity — as its general counsel. He considered that a demotion, and resented what he saw as Mr. Greenberg’s undercutting him.

Mr. Carter resigned in protest from the N.A.A.C.P. in 1968 when its board fired a white staff member, Lewis M. Steel, who had written an article in The New York Times Magazine critical of the Supreme Court. After a year at the Urban Center at Columbia, he joined the New York law firm of Poletti, Freidin, Prashker, Feldman & Gartner. President Richard M. Nixon nominated him to the federal bench for the Southern District of New York in 1972 at the recommendation of Senator Jacob K. Javits, Republican of New York.

On the bench, Judge Carter became known for his strong hand in cases involving professional basketball. He oversaw the merger of the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association in the 1970s, the settlement of a class-action antitrust suit against the N.B.A. brought by Oscar Robertson and other players, and a number of high-profile free-agent arbitration disputes involving players like Marvin Webster and Bill Walton.

In 1979, his findings of bias shown against black and Hispanic applicants for police jobs in New York City led to significant changes in police hiring policies and an increase in minority representation on the force.

Mr. Carter, who lived in Manhattan and died in a hospital there, married Gloria Spencer of New York in 1946. She died in 1971. Besides his son John, Judge Carter is survived by another son, David; a sister, Alma Carter Lawson; and a grandson.

Well into advanced age, Mr. Carter retained the fire of a civil rights agitator who believed that much remained to be done in the pursuit of racial equality.

“Black children aren’t getting equal education in the cities,” he said in an interview with The Times in 2004. “The schools that are 100 percent black are still as bad as they were before Brown. Integration seems to be out, at least for this generation.”

But, he said, “I have hope.”

“In the United States, we make progress in two or three steps, then we step back,” he added. “And blacks are more militant now and will not accept second-class citizenship as before.” Dennis Hevesi contributed reporting.