Groups probe racial makeup at Arundel country club

March 19, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Anne Arundel County NAACP are questioning the racial makeup and roles of black employees at Old South Country Club, a private southern county golf and tennis establishment with a membership that includes politicians and civic leaders.

Club officials said yesterday that allegations laid out in letters to the club last week are insulting and factually incorrect.

"I've never seen any signs that there's any discrimination whatsoever," said Mark Adams, president of the 375-member club. "All of us are very concerned about making sure we always treat people fairly."

In his letter, Gerald G. Stansbury, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Anne Arundel chapter, wrote that the club has just one African-American member.

Both letters request that the club respond with facts and figures concerning the makeup of its membership, employees and board of governors. The NAACP wrote that it believes African-American employees are relegated to low-ranking positions.

Adams - who said the club will respond to the letters - said yesterday that he is not aware of any blacks in managerial positions, although he said that does not mean the club discriminates. He also said the club has "three or four" African-Americans among its members and that it has never turned down a black applicant.

Full memberships at the club are more than $20,000 a year, Adams said. Members include state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and David M. Sheehan, husband of Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens.

Deborah A. Jeon, a managing attorney for the ACLU of Maryland, said yesterday that she sent a letter after a complaint was lodged with the ACLU and that she will await a response.

She would not disclose who made the complaint.

Stansbury did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment.

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