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Maggie Hathaway with Ray Charles at the 9th Image Awards in 1976.

Maggie Hathaway opened doors for blacks in golf and entertainment

By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
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Maggie Hathaway was a busy woman back in her heyday as she had a passion for ensuring that blacks in Los Angeles shared the same luxuries in life as whites did.  She was one of the city’s most well known community and civil rights activist. 

Hathaway, who migrated to Los Angeles from Louisiana in the 1940s, was an avid golfer during a time when many blacks were not allowed to play on many golf courses in the Los Angeles area.  She did not take that sitting down, so she fought to integrate golf courses, starting with the course that is now known as Chester A. Washington Golf Course on Western Avenue.

Hathaway took up the sport of golf in 1955 after winning a bet with boxer Joe Louis.  She took to the sport well, but she was unable to play at many courses in Los Angeles, which led to her leading several rallies against the courses. 

In 1963 Hathaway founded Minority Associated Golfers in 1963, which encouraged minorities to take up the sport, and supported minority golfers who were working towards a professional career. 

Hathaway was the longtime director and coach at the Jack Thompson Golf Course, which was renamed for Hathaway in 1997. 

For over 30 years Hathaway wrote a golf column in the Los Angeles Sentinel.  The column was one of the first in the nation to highlight the accomplishments of black professional golfers,

Hathaway did not limit her crusade to sports, as she was also a talented singer and actress, and she often served as a double for Lena Horne.  She appeared in a number of movies, including “Quite, Please!” the Marx Brothers’ “At the Circus” and “Cabin in the Sky.”  She often portrayed sassy, witty, sexy ladies on the screen. 

Like in sports, Hathaway experienced inequalities for blacks in the film industry too.  She was the president of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood chapter of the NAACP, and along with Sammy Davis Jr., Hathaway founded the NAACP Image Award show in 1967 to honor black performers who were overlooked by mainstream award shows, such as the Oscars and Grammys. 

Hathaway’s memory lives on with the Image Awards, and also at the Maggie Hathaway Golf Course, which is on Western just north of Century Blvd.  The golf course has become a training center for many novice golfers, and their First Tee youth program and women’s program have made life long golfers out of many African Americans. 

The First Tee is a program that teaches children how to play golf, and the program has sent a lot of their players to college on scholarships.  There are not as many high school students competing for golf scholarships as there are football and basketball players competing for scholarships, so a good player can get his or her education paid for if their grades are good in school and they excel at the sport. 

Hathaway has touched many lives in the black community because she felt that blacks should get equal opportunities and equal exposure as white people.  She was a woman who did not stand for anything less than the best for her people. 

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Category: Sports History


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