MD Gov: Ehrlich Raises Money at Racist Club

Via the Baltimore Sun (login required):

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Just three years ago, Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., a noted cardiac surgeon and associate dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, cited Baltimore's oldest country club as an example of racial exclusion and the progress African-Americans still need to make.

"I have had a professorship at Vanderbilt named after me, but I still can't become a member at the Elkridge Club in Baltimore," Watkins, who is black, told a publication at his Tennessee alma mater. "We have not healed completely."

Still, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. held a golf fund-raiser last week at the North Charles Street country club - a decision that is sparking criticism from some prominent African-American leaders, including Watkins.

Several Elkridge members and former officers confirmed that the club has had no African-American members in its 127-year history. None would speak for the record. Club members said there is no written race-based prohibition, and that blacks and other minorities have played golf and dined there. Memberships are extended based on social and family connections, they said...

"Amazing. I could seek candidacy in the Senate of the United States, but cannot seek membership in this club," said Kweisi Mfume, former president of the NAACP and a Democratic candidate for Senate...

"I don't think that the governor should play at a club that his own lieutenant governor could not be a member of," said Del. Adrienne A. Jones, a Democrat who heads the Baltimore County Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs and who is speaker pro tem of the House of Delegates...

But race has nonetheless been a delicate issue for Ehrlich. He drew the ire of minority groups last year when he dismissed the concept of multiculturalism as "crap" and "bunk," and during the 2004 Republican National Convention when he accused Democrats of racism for what he said were rote appeals for black votes.

During a Board of Public Works meeting this year, he echoed Comptroller William Donald Schaefer's sentiment that the state's minority business program should end at some point - drawing a stinging rebuke from the General Assembly's black members.


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