*South Carolina’s Forest Lake Country Club is no longer whites-only after finally admitting its first African American member, reports The State.
Breaking the club’s racial barrier is Columbia resident Ashleigh Wilson, a 31-year-old attorney with national law firm Bowman and Brooke. Wilson said she is “pleased” to now be part of the Forest Lake family.
“I enjoy playing tennis and its other amenities, and have many friends at Forest Lake,” she said in a brief statement. “I’ve been welcomed warmly there.”
According to Atlanta Black Star, the club has faced sporadic backlash over its failure to accept or even extend membership opportunities to African Americans. The most recent flareup took place earlier this year when Democrats urged then-Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) to end his membership at the private club before replacing Gov. Nikki Haley. McMaster didn’t budge, however.
The governor also refused to give up his 30-year membership in 2014 when he ran against former Democratic state legislator and CNN commentator Bakari Sellers for the lieutenant governor seat. Sellers brought up McMaster’s membership at the all-white club as an issue during the campaign but to no avail.
Forest Lake president George Gibbes issued a statement Friday, saying the private club has a limited number of members, but that its membership includes “a diverse group of business and professional leaders.”
“We do not discriminate by race, religion or creed. New members are sponsored by existing members, and once new members have been approved by the Membership Committee, they are placed on a waiting list until vacancies occur,” Gibbes explained.
“While respecting the privacy of our Club, we can say we have members of various religious and ethnic groups,” he added. “African American families have been approved for membership and existing members have offered to sponsor others.”