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Connie Leeper: Dr. George C. Simkins Jr.’s Lasting Impact

After my husband and I moved to Greensboro in 1985, I soon learned of the fight for civil rights that took place right here in my newly adopted town. One person, in particular, was Dr. George C. Simkins, Jr., who was a community leader and civil rights activist. Born in Greensboro in 1924, Dr. Simkins was a well-known and respected dentist. In 1955, he and several other black men were arrested for trespassing after they played nine holes at the all-white, municipal Gillespie Golf Course. The men appealed their convictions all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against them in a 5-to-4 vote. Rather than integrate Gillespie, the city closed the course, reopening seven years later with Dr. Simkins the first to tee off.

Most notably, Dr. Simkins was involved in a court action to desegregate Moses Cone and Wesley Long Community Hospitals. You can find a permanent reminder near Cone Hospital where a plaque describes the role Dr. Simkins played in this landmark case.

In 2010, Dr. Simkinsā€™ friends and family chose the Community Foundation as a home for The George C. Simkins, Jr. Scholarship. To date, almost $200,000 in scholarships have been awarded to high school students of color. This scholarship is a permanent reminder that there was once a brave, dedicated African American who was committed to equality and would surely be proud to see that his legacy is being honored in this way.

Connie Leeper, Donor Services Manager

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