GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Dr. George C. Simkins, Jr. scholarship program has officially moved to The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
In addition, the annual golf tournament fundraiser of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum has been renamed in honor of Dr. Simkins. A portion of its proceeds will go toward the scholarship program beginning in 2012.
Organizers of the scholarship fund said they favored placing the program in the hands of The Community Foundation for a number of reasons, including professional management of the program, efficient administration of the scholarships and the desire to ensure permanency and prominence for Dr. Simkins’ extensive legacy.
The renamed George C. Simkins, Jr. Memorial Golf Classic will be held this Saturday, June 11 at the Bryan Park Golf Course in Browns Summit.
Dr. Simkins was a well-known and respected dentist in Greensboro, as well as a civil rights activist who served as president of the local chapter of the NAACP from 1959-84. 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. Gov. Luther Hodges commuted their sentences. Rather than integrate Gillespie, the city closed the course. It reopened seven years later.
Dr. Simkins also was involved in landmark court actions to desegregate Moses Cone and Wesley Long Community hospitals, the public libraries and the municipal tennis and golf facilities. He also was among those whose lawsuit resulted in a federal judge ordering the Greensboro City Schools in 1971 to use busing to bring about total integration of the schools.
Coming full circle, in 1998 the Greensboro Parks & Recreation Department named its indoor tennis facility at Barber Park after Dr. Simkins.
He died in 2001.
“We are honored that the longtime supporters of Dr. Simkins have entrusted The Community Foundation with managing such an important part of his amazing legacy to Greensboro,” said Walker Sanders, Foundation president. “Dr. Simkins remains one of the outstanding figures in Guilford County history, and through the scholarship program in his memory we intend to make future generations of our residents familiar with all of his accomplishments.”
To date, the Dr. George C. Simkins, Jr. scholarship program has awarded more than 50 Guilford County students over $150,000 in scholarship money.
“We are pleased to partner with a scholarship program that honors one of Greensboro’s heroes,” said Melvin “Skip” Alston,” chairman and co-founder of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. “Many young people will be able to accomplish their dreams because of the foundation he established in his fight for freedom and equality for all.”