Dondre Green glanced uneasily at the civic leaders and sports figures filling the hotel ballroom in Cleveland. They had come from across the nation to attend a fundraiser for the National Minority College Golf Scholarship Foundation. Dondre, an 18-year-old high school senior from Monroe, Louisiana, was the evening’s honored guest.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the emcee said, “our special guest, Dondre Green.”
As the audience stood applauding, Dondre walked to the microphone and began his story. “I love golf,” he said quietly. “For the past two years, I’ve been a member of the St. Frederick High School golf team. And though I was the only black member, I’ve always felt at home playing at mostly white country clubs across Louisiana.”
The audience leaned forward; even the waiters and busboys stopped to listen. Dondre continued his story. His team had driven from Monroe and arrived at the Caldwell Parish Country Club in Columbia. They walked to the putting green.
Dondre and his teammates were too absorbed to notice the conversation between a man and St. Frederick athletic director James Murphy. After disappearing into the clubhouse, Murphy returned to his players.
“I want to see the seniors,” he said. “On the double!” His face seemed strained as he gathered the four students, including Dondre.
“I don’t know how to tell you this,” Murphy said, “but the Caldwell Parish Country Club is reserved for whites only.” He paused and looked at Dondre. His teammates glanced at each other in disbelief.
“I want you seniors to decide what our response should be,” Murphy continued. “If we leave, we forfeit this tournament. If we stay, Dondre can’t play.”
Dondre’s golfing teammates faced an important decision. If they stood by their friend it would cost them dearly. But when it came time to decide, no one hesitated. “Let’s get out of here,” one of them whispered.
“They just turned and walked toward the van,” Dondre said. “They didn’t debate it. And the younger players joined us without looking back.”
Dondre was astounded by the response of his friends – and the people of Louisiana. The whole state was outraged and tried to make it right. The Louisiana House of Representatives proclaimed a Dondre Green Day and passed legislation permitting lawsuits for damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs against any private facility that invites a team, then bars any member because of race.
As Dondre concluded, his eyes glistened with tears. “I love my coach and my teammates for sticking by me,” he said. “It goes to show that there are always good people who will not give in to bigotry. The kind of love they showed me that day will conquer hatred every time.”