Northeast Ohioan Heads to Washington to Receive the Medal of Freedom
The classic shot of Charles Sifford shows the golfer chomping on a cigar with a serious look on his face as he contemplates his next shot. What you don't see is the struggle he endured to play the sport professionally. Sitting in his home in Brecksville, the 92-year-old recalls that golf was a white passtime when he was growing up in North Carolina. African American golfers weren't allowed on the links.
CHARLES SIFFORD:We didn't have no golf courses.(chuckles) All we could do was caddy. That was a way of making a living.
But, as a caddy, he grew to love the game and practiced it wherever he could, eventually becoming the first person of color to compete on the PGA Tour after the golfing association dropped its "Caucasian-only" membership requirement in 1961. Today, Sifford is commonly called the "Jackie Robinson of golf", and this evening he will join 18 other honorees who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
CHARLES SIFFORD: It's an honor to me, being a pioneer. Don't get to go to Washington every day.
And he'll be coming home with the nation's highest civilian honor.