Charleston Rifle Club refuses to admit first qualified black member while approving 13 more white men

A black South Carolina doctor was denied membership in an all-white rifle club in Charleston, even as thirteen new white members were admitted, reports the Post and Courier.


The Charleston Rifle Club, established in 1855, is "a private recreational facility located on 14 acres on the banks of the Ashley River. Established in 1855, it has been a gathering place of families for decades," their website says.

"We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new members" they add. "We hope that you will enjoy your new home away from home. Please attend the meetings and join in the festivities."

In fact, Dr. Melvin Brown and his family were not welcome apparently, shocking Brown, who thought that battling to integrate private clubs was a fight his father had won.

“This is new for me,” he said. “My dad fought this fight.”

Newer members of the club are circulating a petition challenging the decision.

"“(A) minority, against the will of the majority, has chosen to make the club a race-based organization,” the petition states. “This threatens the reputation of the club and the reputation of its members. It also jeopardizes the club’s affiliations with countless outside organizations with which the club has for years endeavored to assist in social and charitable efforts,' they wrote.

"We, the undersigned, hereby demand that the Club leadership immediately and publicly condemn this practice, and actively seek to right this wrong."

As the Post and Courier points out, it is not against the law for the club to reject Brown's petition, since the Civil Rights Act only forbids race-based discrimination in public places, not private places of leisure.

Several private clubs in the state have yet to include women or blacks.