HISTORY OF LANGSTON
The Langston Golf Course, named after John Mercer Langston (the first African American elected to the United States Congress from Virginia, and the first dean of Howard University Law School) opened in 1939. Prior to the founding of Langston, African Americans played golf at Lincoln Memorial (now West Potomac Park). The other public courses in the city were for whites only.
The Capital City Golf Club was founded in 1928 as a club for men only and renamed the Royal Golf Club in 1933. The Wake Robin Golf Club, the city's first black female golf club, was organized in 1937. Both clubs joined forces to lobby the federal government to desegregate the city's public golf courses. In 1938 they petitioned Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes for access to public courses funded by their federal taxes. Instead, Ickes permitted construction of a golf course for blacks on an abandoned trash site. Langston thus began as a nine-hole golf course. Both clubs continued to fight for the desegregation of all public golf courses. In 1941 Ickes issued a desegregation order at the city's federal courses. It would take longer for local white golfers to accept it.
The Langston Golf Course in Anacostia Park was opened as a 9-hole course in 1939 (and expanded to 18 holes in the 1950s). It was constructed with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Project Administration (WPA). Langston Golf Course, which was always open to all, quickly became a popular course. It attracted local residents and celebrities, including singer Billy Eckstine, golfer Lee Elder, and boxer Joe Louis. It is operated by the National Park Service as part of Anacostia Park and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Today, the course is popularly regarded as the best public golf links in the District of Columbia. As one of the first courses in the country specifically built for use by African Americans during segregation, its mere existence is a miracle and many people persevered for a long time to make it come to fruition. The history and the people who have been involved there make it a special place. The Conservancy seeks to bring awareness and increased resources to innovative programs and projects that preserve and perpetuate the rich history, legacy, and full potential of Langston Golf Course.