Third grader Willie Powell was fascinated by the new golf course in his town, so much so that he would run the seven miles from his home to the course. When he asked a man to teach him to play, the man told Willie that "his kind" weren't welcome there. Willie persevered in visiting the course, however, and soon the man invited him to become a caddy. After several years of caddying, his mother's employer, Dr. Casey, finally taught him to play, and Willie eventually became the captain of his high school golf team. Throughout his growing up years, and on into his adult life, Willie always remembered the words of an elementary school principal, who had told him that if he wanted to get ahead in this world, he would always need to be "twice as good as the white children."
When World War II started, Willie was drafted. In Europe, anyone could play any golf course, but when Willie returned to the United States, he once again encountered discrimination. "Folks don't mind me fighting for their freedom," he told his wife Marcella, "but they sure do mind me sharing their clubhouse." Willie decided that he would build his own golf course, where anyone would be welcome to play, so during the day, he worked on his course, then in the evenings, he supported his family by working as a security guard. Clearview started as a nine hole course, but today, it is an 18 hole course, run by Powell's daughter, Renee, who was the first African American member of the LPGA.
I'm looking forward to sharing TWICE AS GOOD with my fourth graders on Monday. It will be a really important addition to our African American history basket.