Golf's "desegregator" to receive presidential honor

Charles Sifford is an American golfer who helped desegregate the former whites-only game of golf.

As racism reared its ugly head in yet another segment of American society, African American men could only be seen on the golf course in the role of caddie or other non-playing roles.  Just like the Negro Leagues, formed when whites excluded African Americans from the game of baseball, African Americans formed their own golf leagues and tournaments, of which Sifford participated.

During the Civil Rights era of the '60s Sifford became one of the few African Americans to play in a PGA tour.  He won the Hartford Open in 1967 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1967.

Sifford is set to receive the Presidential Medal Award of Freedom next week at the White House by President Barack Obama.  He joins Dance Theater of Harlem founder, Alvin Ailey (posthumously), American music composer, song writer Stevie Wonder; actress and Academy Award winner Meryll Streep, actress Marlo Thomas, journalist/news anchor Tom Brokaw, and others.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom award is the highest civilian award presented to an American for their contribution to the culture, world peace, security or national interest of the United States, or other significant endeavors.

Sifford is recognized in D.C. at the Langston Golf Center where photos, and the history of the golfer, are displayed.

Charles Sifford passes.  See story.