Admitting African-American Member Called “Great Moment” for Dallas CC

Kneeland Youngblood, a 58-year-old private-equity executive, is the first African-American to become a full-privilege member of the 118-year-old club in the Texas city. The club issued a statement welcoming Youngblood as “an outstanding individual,” while Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called the development “a great moment for the city [and] the club.”

Reports that Kneeland Youngblood, a 58-year-old private-equity executive, has become the first African-American to gain a full-privilege membership to Dallas Country Club prompted a flurry of media coverage in that Texas city that included comments from its mayor and other prominent citizens.

Youngblood’s admission was highlighted in a Dallas Morning News column by James Ragland, which noted that he had waited 13 years for admission. But when contacted by Ragland, Youngblood, the co-founder and Managing Partner of Pharos Capital Group and a director on several high-profile corporate boards, said only that he “respect[ed] the club’s decision” and was “honored now that they’ve chosen me to be a member.”

“It’s for the club to choose,” Youngblood added. “It is their decision 100 percent to support, whether I was black or white or brown. People don’t get in sometimes. Some have been on the list longer, some shorter.”

Youngblood does not play golf or tennis and has a swimming pool at his residence, he told Ragland, but still felt the $137,000 membership would be of value “as an opportunity to see some old friends and make some new friends. That’s really it.”

Dallas CC granted an out-of-state membership a few years ago to another black businessman, Ragland noted in his column, and a statement issued by the club’s current President, Ray Nixon, about Youngblood’s acceptance was described by the columnist as “a modest nod to the cultural shift afoot in Dallas,” even though Nixon’s statement did not “discuss the prolonged process Youngblood endured.”

Nixon’s statement said: “Dallas Country Club is a vital asset and an extraordinary amenity in an increasingly global city. We have a long-standing history and commitment as both a social and family club. Kneeland Youngblood is an outstanding individual and friend; and we are delighted to have him and his family as part of our club.”

Others commenting on the news noted that Dallas CC has had an extended waiting list for all applicants. But some assigned special significance to Youngblood’s acceptance.

“I think it’s a great moment for Dallas, it’s a great moment for the club,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told Ragland. “Obviously a private club wants it to stay private. They don’t want to make a big deal out of this thing.”

Ragland also contacted former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who gave up his membership to Dallas CC in December 2006 before being elected. Leppert, a Republican who ran for the U.S. Senate a few years later, told Ragland he did so simply because he felt it was time to pressure the club to be more inclusive.

“I feel the same way that I did then,” he said when contacted for reaction about Youngblood’s acceptance. “I know Kneeland, and I think he’s a great guy…. I’m happy for him.”

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