Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sam Bowie Breaks Color Barrier at Country Club

Sam Bowie has been accepted as the first African American member at Lexington's Idle Hour Country Club. Here is an excerpt of an article from

Former UK Basketball player Sam Bowie said Wednesday that he and his family have been accepted for membership at Idle Hour Country Club, making him the club's first African American member.

"I'm very flattered, very honored, very appreciative," said Bowie. "This wasn't about me making history," said the retired Los Angeles Lakers player. But, he added, "whether I ...want it to be a historical event or not, it is."

Although Idle Hour's white clubhouse, green golf course and black fence are clearly visible to thousands who drive on Richmond Road every day, until Bowie's acceptance, it remained a symbol of exclusivity and old divisions based on race and class in Lexington.

Society's dictates changed more quickly than the club's. For example, when Otis Singletary was president of the University of Kentucky from 1969 to 1987, the university paid his dues at the club, but by 1987, a group of faculty members asked President David Roselle not to join because of perceived discriminatory practices.

Neither former President Charles Wethington nor current President Lee T. Todd Jr. belong to the club. (Wethington stepped down from the Lexington Club, a downtown dining establishment, in 2002 after he found out it had no black members.)

The Lexington Club now has black members.

At the time, UK officials said the university had an unwritten rule against business dealings with any discriminatory organizations.

That unwritten rule, many believe, is why UK basketball coach John Calipari joined the Lexington Country Club despite buying a house just a block away from Idle Hour. But with Bowie's inclusion, it's possible that UK would change its unwritten policy.

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