Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, who has served as chairman of the Board of Commissioners five times, can now add another accomplishment to his resume: Alston has been elected as the 2019 president of the Greensboro Men’s Club, one of the oldest, most storied and most significant clubs in North Carolina.
The club consists of 40 of the most influential black men in the city. That number never changes and the only way a new member can join is if a member dies or drops out.
Greensboro writer Ogi Overman once wrote of the Greensboro Men’s Club that it is “probably the most important organization in Greensboro that almost no one’s ever heard of.” And though that group does “fly under the radar,” the club has had a tremendous amount of influence in shaping Greensboro and Guilford County over it’s 90-year history.
According to Alston, there’s some controversy as to when the club was founded. He said it really started in 1927 but it became official about three years after that.
Alston said this week that he was very honored to be the new president and he said that was particularly true given the history and importance of the club over the years. The Greensboro Men’s Club, which meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month at different locations, fights for civil rights and racial justice in all forms.
“This organization has fought for integration of a lot of our area institutions,” Alston said.
Alston said that the late Dr. George Simkins, Jr. was just one example. In 1963, with the support of fellow club members, Simkins filed a federal law suit against Cone Hospital and Wesley Long Memorial Hospital after one of his patients was denied admittance to both. Simkins won at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and that lawsuit led to those hospitals taking black patients and hiring black doctors.
Alston said there were too many former famous Men’s Club members to name. He said that, if one thought of schools in the area that were named after black men, the man whose name was on the school building was almost certainly a member of the club.
According to Alston, one interesting practice of the group is that each meeting two members are responsible for hosting the entire club. Alston said that can be costly if all 40 people show up at a meeting at a nice restaurant.
The brand new president also said that the club prides itself on getting speakers from all points on the political spectrum. For instance, some past speakers include staunch Republicans such as former Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes, former NC Senator Trudy Wade and Rhino TimesEditor John Hammer.