<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> <b>The Wake Robin Golf Club Helen Webb Harris</b> <p> <p> Helen Harris who resided at 79 "R" Street, Washington DC, sent postcards to many of her friends and associates, inviting them to come to a meeting, on April 22, 1937. <p> Twelve women responded, out of the many invitations, to listen to a radical proposal involving golf. The attendees were Adelaide Adams, Dorothy Booth, Anna Johnson, Bernice Proctor, Hazel Foreman, Isabell Betts, Stella Skinner, Mabel Jones, Ethel Williams, Vydie Carter, Jerenia Reid, Evelyn Beam and Helen Harris. <p> The thirteen women initiated a gender revolution when they began to discuss the historic concept of forming a golf club exclusively for and by women. It did not take long for the revolutionaries to draft a plan, elect officers and choose a name. <p> They elected the usual positions of officers with the most influential responsibilities to be held and managed by Helen Harris as president and Mabel Jones as the golf instructor. <p> The name of the organization would be-The Wake Robin Golf Club for Negro Women. The Wake Robin Golf Club became first African American women's golf club in America. This was the first women's club organized to promote the game of golf as a primary objective for and managed by women. On April 22, 1937, the women became a symbol of liberation, emancipation and bravery to take an idea and quietly conceptualize it into a reality. The club defied all ethnic male golf organizations as to who can play golf, and, who can control the future of golf in the United States. <p> The objectives of the group were to: <p> 1. give women the opportunity to learn about the sport of golf, this would entail the history of the sport, equipment, rules, scoring and tournament venues <p> 2. provide lessons to be given by a golf instructor for women to develop the skills to play the game and to develop several golf champions <p> 3. schedule tournaments for the women to play within the Club and to become proficient in competing against women in other geographic areas <p> 4. initiate a similar golf program for the youth to become involved in the sport <p> 5. perform community services, as a club, for the church, school, hospital, shelter, <p> 6. and to be politically active in the integration of golf courses and programs <p> <p> Before the Wake Robin Golf Club was a year old, it was involved in an integration claim against the United States Department of Interior. The Wake Robin Golf Club joined with the Royal Golf Club to petition the Secretary of Interior, Harold Ickes, to integrate the all white golf courses, in the DC area. Sec. Ickes opted to build a 9-holes golf course for Blacks in the Anacostia section of Washington, rather than to integrate the all white existing facilities. The 9-holes Langston Golf Course was opened with much fanfare on June 11, 1939. Although, it gave the golfers a place to hit balls, it was best described as a cow pasture with a raw sewage ditch running through it. This facility was to appease the African American golf community and to keep golf as a sport-"separate but equal." <p> The Wake Robin Golf Club would not let it go. They made sure that Sec. Ickes knew that they were professional women who knew that separate did not mean equal. After much pro and con negotiating, by the Wake Robin Golf Club, Sec. Ickes integrated all of the golf courses within the DC area, with a proclamation in 1941. <p> The present 18-holes, 145 acres Langston Golf Course was renovated and reopened in 1955. It is ironic that the PGA lifted its Jim Crow policy three years later, in 1958, to allow African American male golfers to compete in some tournaments. The Langston Golf Course was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. <p> The women of the Wake Robin Golf Club were quickly becoming known as the task force involved in desegregation throughout the golf communities. The Wake Robin Golf Club modules of getting things done, in an effective way, was so impressive that the male dominated United Golfers Association and the Eastern Golf Association wanted a piece of the action. These male oriented groups desperately needed administrative support to maintain corporate reigns over the myriad of individual golf clubs that spread from the East coast to the Midwestern states and from Florida to Texas. <p> The Wake Robin Club was extended an invitation to join the United Golfers Association and the Eastern Golf Association. The Wake Robin Golf Club women were approached to assist the two groups with their administrative affairs as directors on various executive boards and committees. Helen Harris was the first woman to be elected as president of the Eastern Golf Association and served two terms, 1942 to 1943 and 1943 to 1944. Another first was the election of Paris Brown as the United Golfers Association Tournament Director from 1954 to 1964 for both men and women's golf. <p> The Wake Robin Golf Club has continued to adhere to their primary initiatives. One in particular was to provide a training module for junior golfers to participate in the game. Today, the initiative is still viable as the Interclub Federation of Golfers Junior Golf Program. The program initiated in 1937 also served as a model for the United Golfers Association junior golf program. <p> Another initiative was to groom championship women golfers. The group has produced multiple local club champions, regional champions, state champions and United Golfers Association National Open Women's Champions. Some of the more recognizable multiple champions are- <p> Club Regional & State Champions <p> Sarah Smith Ethel Terrell Downing Hazel Foreman Elizabeth Rice McNeal Ethel Funches Frances Mays Laurie Stokien Jean Miller Colbert <p> <p> The United Golfers Association National Open Women's Amateur Champions <p> Ethel Funches, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1973 Laurie Stokien, 1975 <p> Top 2nd to 3rd place in UGA National Open Women's Amateur Championship round <p> Alma Arvin, 1956 <p> Hazel Foreman, 1946, 1947, 1948 <p> Elizabeth Mc Neal, 1959 <p> Frances Mays, 1963 <p> Ethel Funches, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1961 <p> <p> The Wake Robin Golf Club revolutionized golf for women across the vast span of the country and is still not highlighted in the history that it deserves. The Wake Robin Golf Club was finally recognized as a pioneer in the 2009 African American Golfers Hall of Fame, but there is not a plaque for the club in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Also, four Wake Robin Golf Club members were inducted into the now defunct United Golfers Association `Afro-American Golfers Hall of Fame'- <p> Paris Brown, 1963 Helen Harris, 1973 Ethel Funches, 1969 Ethel Williams, 1975 <p> The Wake Golf Club had envisioned that eventually other women's clubs would emerge all over the country. And, eventually become a part of a united and national women's golf coalition. This is the only initiative of the Wake Robin Golf Club that has not come to fruition. Perhaps the newly established women's club will adopt this initiative to become a coalition to provide an incubation system for athletes who want to elect to play tour golf as a career. <p> Some of the women's clubs that were influenced by the formation of the Wake Robin Golf Club during the first fifty years, between 1937 and 1987 are: <p> Chicago Women's Golf Club, Chicago in 1937 Vernondale/Vernoncrest Golf Club, Los Angeles in 1947 Green's Ladies Golf Club, Philadelphia in 1954 Choi-Settes Peace Golf Club, Chicago, 1960 Monumental Women's Golf Auxillary, Baltimore, 1960 Women of the Sixth City Golf Club, Cleveland, 1960 Debutantes Golf Club, Philadelphia, 1965 Ebony Ladies Golf League, Chicago, 1974 Les Birdies Golf Club of Charlotte NC, 1976 Garden State Dufferettes Golf Club, Newark NJ, 1980 <p> Today, there are many more African American women golf organizations appearing annually because of the impact of Helen Webb Harris. <p> The influence of Helen Webb Harris has extended beyond 50 years. And, there is no longer a one "Black women's" golf club, but a multitude of clubs and organizations with the primary purpose of exposing and teaching African American women about the sport of golf. Helen Webb Harris is the heroic icon for African American women in golf. <p> Helen Webb Harris was the wife of a physician who was one of the founders of the men's Royal Golf Club in Washington DC. She was an educator in the Washington DC school system and knew how to expand the minds and souls of young people to explore the unknown. She was an idealist and dreamer who could see beyond the horizon to become a trailblazer of change. <p> Helen Webb Harris took the opportunity to evoke change in the lives of African American women relative to the sport of golf. She had an epiphany that materialized into a reality. She formed the first golf organization for "Colored" women with the strength, courage and support of the wives of others prominent Washington physicians. The club selected the name "Wake Robin" to epitomize their efforts. It is a plant that is strong and viable, which characterizes the persona of Helen Webb Harris and her compatriots in establishing the club. <p> The Helen Webb Harris Scholarship Fund was established at the 70th Anniversary in 2007. Her dream to involve African American women in the sport of golf has transcended into the 21st century. The 75th Anniversary will be celebrated in 2012. <p> <p> <h3> Chapter Two </h3> <b>The UGA/Afro-American Golfers Hall of Fame <p> Anna Mae Black Robinson</b> <p> <p> The United States Colored Golfers Association was formed in 1926. The purpose of the Association was to unify all of the individual golf groups into one powerful organization. Each group retained its own identity, but, this unification would provide structure with solidarity in governance, politics and finances for Colored golfers. The representation was divided into three geographic areas-Northeast, Southeast and Midwest districts. <p> In 1929, the name of the organization was changed to the United Golfers Association. The Association had solidified its membership base and was able to produce an official magazine entitled-<i>The United Golfer</i> in 1930. The magazine gave credibility to the existence of the Association. The feats of the clubs and individual players were published, as well as information on social and civil rights activities. The United Golfers Association had successfully achieved all of its goals and mandates. Included were a schedule of 15 tournaments per year and a season ending, three day Championship Tournament for Professional and Amateur golfers. <p> 1930 was also the year that the United Golfers Association finally allowed women to participate in the Association events. Women were invited to participate in the Championship too. While all of these good things were happening for the Association, questions arose as to who was responsible for keeping the records of tournaments results and participant performances. Were the records to be kept by the host club or the district or the Association administration? <p> One woman came forward with a solution, after 29 years of questions and procrastination by all levels. The woman is Anna Mae Black Robinson. <p> Anna Mae Black Robinson established and was the first President of the Chicago Women's Golf Club. She was reelected to that position several times. She had also served in various offices within the United Golfers Association as a Vice-President, Assistant Tournament Director, and Historian. She was not a stranger to how records could be mismanaged and artifacts could be lost. She recognized the need to have a facility to house the Association's records in an archival format under the supervision of a responsible management team. <p> Mrs. Robinson made a proposal to the United Golfers Association executive committee that it should establish a Hall of Fame. The Hall would collect, archive and maintain the records and artifacts of the Negro golfers. <p> It took an extraordinary amount of time to get the proposal on the agenda for consideration because the executive committee only met every two years. Finally, after much coercion, the committee approved the proposal as worthy of consideration. The United Golfers Association Hall of Fame was officially established in 1959, on paper. <p> Thereafter, the Association members would gather to celebrate the selection of the honorees worthy to be in the Hall of Fame, on a yearly basis. <p> Anna Mae Black Robinson is definitely a heroine because she had accomplished, in a few years, what the entire United Golfers Association administration could not or would not enact in 29 years. <p> In 1969, Dr. Adolph Scott was appointed as the executive director/ curator of the records and artifacts. Anna Robinson and Dr. Scott envisioned that the Hall of Fame would be housed at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce OH. Thus, the name, the UGA/National Afro-American Golfers Hall of Fame evolved. <p> They began to research and solicit information as to how the feat would be accomplished. Anna Robinson devoted much of her time to the project of fine tuning the wording and responsibilities of all of the parties involved. Apparently some discord developed between the Society and the UGA, but Robinson was not to be deterred. She continued to press and maintained the negotiations between several different Historical Society and UGA administrative changes. <p> Although, the Ohio Historical Society would provide the space, it was firm in the negotiations as to the plans, design and maintenance of the exhibit. The hopes of Robinson did not waiver, she was persistent in developing a proposal that would be acceptable to the Historical Society and the UGA executive committee. <p> It took almost another 20 years (1969-1987) before a document was deemed ready for signatures. Finally, in 1987, the Memorandum of Understanding was presented to both parties, The Historical Society and the United Golfers Association for the approval signatures. <p> The "Terms and Conditions" of the Memorandum also contained various stipulations of accountability required of the UGA- <p> 1. Initially the UGA would provide the Ohio Historical Society with funds for the planning and design of the exhibit, which would not begin until the sum was paid. <p> 2. The UGA would provide additional funds for the upkeep, maintenance and expenses for the exhibit. <p> 3. The UGA would provide to the Historical Society with a plan of action for the raising of the funds for the project. <p> <p> The total sum of money required was in the six digits. The document was signed by- <p> Gary C. Ness, Director John E. Fleming, Director Ohio Historical Society National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center <p> The signature line for any representative of the UGA Hall of Fame committee or the UGA executive committee remained blank. There was no signature of approval for the Memorandum of Understanding by the United Golfers Association. <p> After several years without a compromise or a representative of the UGA signature, the expectations of establishing a Hall of Fame exhibit was abandoned in 1989. <p> There would not be an exhibit dedicated to the history of the Negro in the sport of golf in the near future, due to the lack of funds. <p> Anna Mae Black Robinson was not to relinquish her dreams and hopes that easily. She made sure that a "Historian" was appointed within the Chicago Women's Golf Club organization to archive and maintain all of the records and activities of the organization. <p> The majority of the memorabilia is about women as related to the many Chicago Women's Golf Club and the Mid-Western District tournaments. However, if any men entered into these designated CWGC tournaments, their records are archived. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Heroines of African American Golf</b> by <b>M. Mikell Johnson</b> Copyright © 2010 by M. Mikell Johnson. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.