The National Action Network’s Charleston chapter wants area leaders to be more outspoken about a private club in Charleston which denied membership to an African-American doctor.
“Today we call on local business leaders, political leaders, faith leaders and community leaders to join us in denouncing this racist policy,” Tri-County NAN Vice President of Religious Affairs Rev. Nelson Rivers, III, .
Last month, members of the Charleston Rifle Club blackballed the membership of an African-American doctor while accepting about a dozen white members. The organization has never had a black member in its history.
“We’ve not heard enough from public officials, business leaders, even faith leaders about why this is outrageous and cannot be allowed to continue,” Rivers said. “I call on the mayors of every municipality around here, every member of the General Assembly, every city council person, everyone in a leadership position, you are to stand up and say ‘this is wrong,’ and not say it privately. Not call us and say ‘ain’t it awful?’ You are to publicly denounce this.”
NAN hosted a news conference Monday outside the Rifle Club’s gates in Charleston.
Rivers said since the private club uses public water and sewer services and is an SCE&G customer, it should be prevented from discrimination based on race by the state’s public accommodation law. He suggested the law be changed to include private clubs.
“We’ve asked members of the local delegation of the General Assembly to see whether it can be amended so that no institution that uses publicly-subsidized services be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race,” he said.
Rivers said he contacted the rifle club two weeks ago to discuss the matter but did not receive a response.
“Before I talk about you, I try to talk to you,” he said.