The mayor of Somerset, Maryland, quit his exclusive country club yesterday citing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words. The country club has been embroiled in a debate over whether to allow President Obama to join in his retirement.
Obama has not applied for membership to Woodmont Country Club, which costs $80,000 to apply to and $9,600 in yearly fees, but Politico recently highlighted the club as a possible golf spot for the retired president.
Woodmont was founded in 1913 when Jews were often not accepted in other clubs. The club has remained predominantly Jewish.
The controversy has centered on Obama’s position on Israel/Palestine. The Washington Post obtained an email from lifelong member Faith Goldstein: “He is not welcome at Woodmont. His admittance would create a storm that could destroy our club.” Other members have called Obama’s possible membership “inconceivable” because of his position on Israel/Palestine.
Some club members want the club to remain open to Obama, including Somerset mayor Jeffrey Slavin. He says he was inspired to resign by a sermon by civil rights leader Rev. William J. Barber II last Friday. On Monday, he sent an email to the club thanking them for “memories” and denouncing the controversy.
“I can no longer belong to a community: Where Intolerance is accepted, Where History is forgotten, Where Freedom of Speech is denied, And where the nation’s first black president is disrespected.” Slavin finished the email with “Stay woke.”
“I decided that unless someone did something bold, the club would do nothing. There would be no reason they wouldn’t want someone like that, a prominent figure they could rub elbows with,” he told the Post. Slavin says other Woodmont members also want Obama to feel welcome, but are trying to change the club from within.
The owner of Woodmont Country Club has not commented on the matter.