ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Legend's Passing

I know I'm not the best person to do a post about Charlie Sifford -- although I'm in my late 50s, I'm still not old enough to have seen him play in his prime -- but I can't let him go unmentioned.

The best way I know to salute his passing is simply to say: I just thought he was cool.

Charlie Sifford in his prime

When Sifford became the first black man to play the PGA Tour after the "Caucasians-only" clause in the PGA of America's charter was overturned way back in 1961, I was only 3 years old.

I live in North Carolina, just a couple of hours north of Charlotte where he was born and just about a half-hour from Greensboro where some of the major equality protests happened around the same time. I was fortunate to grow up in a home where color was never an issue and, when NC schools integrated in 1970 -- when I entered junior high school -- I went to a school in a black neighborhood where all of us kids got along and were proud to say that we did. While I knew that bad things like those Charlie Sifford endured happened, I can truthfully say that I never saw anything like that firsthand.

When I first heard about Charlie Sifford -- when I first seriously got into golf -- he had already been on the Champions Tour for a few years. I still remember seeing him puffing on that ubiquitous cigar of his and thinking that he was a man who didn't care what others thought. (And I mean that in a good way. By that time there was already some backlash against smokers.) When I learned what he had gone through just to play the game, I understood. He carried himself like a man who knew who he was.

It's hard enough to make it to 92 when your life is easy. Charlie Sifford earned every year of his. I'm just glad he made it long enough to get the Presidential Medal of Freedom and know how much he meant to us -- blacks and whites alike. Rest in peace, Charlie.

The photo came from this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment