The South Carolina Star Chamber – Whites Only Division

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So here in Columbia SC there are still “whites only” organizations, and one of them is the Forest Lake Country Club. The local newspaper reported:

The nearly 80-year-old Forest Lake Club : whose deed has a whites-only restriction : has no black members, said four club members. They asked not to be identified because the club does not discuss its membership.

The Club may not discuss its membership, but everybody else has been. The same newspaper article linked above further reports:

State GOP chairman Katon Dawson, who is campaigning to lead the national Republican Party organization, has resigned a 12-year membership in a whites-only Columbia country club.

Dawson said last week his continued membership at Forest Lake Club could become a distraction to his efforts to help win elections for Republicans in South Carolina. …

And:

Forest Lake, tucked off Trenholm Road, made headlines in the late 1980s when a then-commanding general at Fort Jackson, Robert Solomon, said he had been denied a complimentary membership because he was Jewish. The club now has Jewish members.

So the club started admitting Jewish members, but remains whites only. Who else belongs to this club? Enter the blogs. According to this blog, members have included a former South Carolina governor, a former President of my employing University, a sitting Federal Judge, and Henry McMaster, current SC Attorney General. This blog offers confirmation on McMaster and others, as of 2008.

What is claimed to be the 2004 by-laws, rules and membership directory is available in two parts here and here. There are a few humorous aspects to the by-laws, like section 8 on page 23 that announces the Club is “Not Responsible For Personal Property On Club Premises.” This suggests a wee bit of a theft problem among the self selected white ruling elite. But mostly none of this is funny at all, just nauseating. I was really sorry to see so many familiar names in that directory.

The role of blogs in publicizing this story is interesting to consider. People who work at our local newspaper are among the Club’s members, which may or may not be the reason its coverage has been so sparse, but blogs are certainly filling the gap.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to The South Carolina Star Chamber – Whites Only Division

  1. Susan Kuo says:

    kudos to ann for blogging about this. i’m also disappointed to see familiar names in the directory. but i’d rather know. ignorance about these issues is anything but bliss.

  2. SuzieTampa says:

    I followed the link, and it appears that this club also bars women as members. They are allowed privileges only if they are married to a member.
    I hope people in SC who are fighting this club will do so on the basis of both race and gender.
    In Tampa, pressure was put on an influential social club called the Krewe of Gasparilla. It agreed to allow black men to join, but still doesn’t allow women to join, and no one seems to care anymore. http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/search?q=gasparilla

    And thanks for the mention of my post on “the good kind of feminist.”

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