Politico: Club segregation enters N.C. race

Politico

Club segregation enters N.C. race

The husband of North Carolina Democratic Senate hopeful Kay Hagan is a lifelong member of an exclusive country club that didn’t admit its first black member until 1995, Hagan’s campaign disclosed Tuesday. 

Charles “Chip” Hagan III, a businessman and former Democratic county leader, “supported opening up membership” at the 1,000-member Greensboro Country Club — but remained a member for years despite his opposition to the club’s de facto segregation policy, Hagan spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan told Politico. 

Kay Hagan, who is counting on strong support among North Carolina’s black Democrats to unseat Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole, has never been a member of the club herself, Flanagan added. 

“Chip supported broadening the membership to include African Americans and others,” she said. “Though it took longer than it should have, Greensboro County Club fully desegregated in 1995 and remains so today.

The vast majority of black leaders in the North Carolina back Hagan, who pushed through a $1.5 million state grant for an international civil rights museum in the state senate and recently voted for a bill banning cross burning and the display of nooses. 

Greensboro was one of the last all-white clubs in the area to integrate. In the mid-1990s, members claimed they had never received an application from a black person, even though African Americans make up about 35 percent of the local population — and the city was site to groundbreaking civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s. 

The first black member to be sponsored was Robert J. Brown, a former aide to Richard to Nixon, according to press accounts at the time. 

Flanagan said Chip Hagan “has been a member his whole life” and inherited the membership from his father, a well-to-do former Marine Corps general and local attorney. She maintained that the candidate herself isn’t a member, despite a recent Raleigh News & Observer report that “the family belongs to the Greensboro Country Club.” 

John Randall, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has bankrolled anti-Hagan ads, demanded to know why the Democrat didn’t demand her husband leave the club, which is located near the family’s house. 

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