Asheville's All-White Debutante Club
(Added to web site June 13, 2002)
Background: The Rhododendron Royal Brigade of Guards debutante club celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2002. Back in 1991, WNCCEIB challenged the club to review its discriminatory practices. As a result, the club added a non-discriminatory clause to its bylaws. Further discussion led to a 1993 commitment by the club to no further publicity in the Asheville paper until there was actual on-the-ground change in the composition of the debutantes. Prior to that, there were full page pictures, often color, of the white debutantes in February and then two or three more full pages covering their parties and 'coronation ball' in June. In 2000, the club broke its agreement about no publicity and refused to respond to requests for an explanation or to meet for discussions. There appears to have been no change in the all-white composition of the annual debutantes.
Below is background information about the club. Should you wish to write to the club, the address is:
October 23, 2002 "All-white debutantes are free to gather as they wish" Guest Commentary in the Asheville Citizen-Times by Ms B. Fay Parks. In what would seem a spoof but apparently isn't, the author says she finds "their whiteness a refreshing form of diversity" in a nation whose white population is in decline. Ms. Parks' column is in response to WNCCEIB's column of June 12, 2002 and criticizes WNCCEIB for using its "energies to defame and tear down associations of individuals, leading to an increase in idleness and possibly some degree of misery."
June 12, 2002 "All-white debutante club surprising, sad in 2002" Guest Column in the Asheville Citizen-Times by Monroe Gilmour
May 9, 2002 WNCCEIB letter to UNC-Asheville Assistant Professor Sandra Byrd WNCCEIB letter to spouse of "Brigade" President; Dr. Byrd is on the Board of the Community Foundation of WNC; NO REPLY
June 2, 2002 Asheville Citizen-Times: "Rhododendron Royal Brigade of Guards holds 70th annual coronation ball" 25 women presented at the Grove Park Inn event Part 1 and Part 2
March 18, 2002 WNCCEIB letter to Mr. Jones Byrd WNCCEIB asks "Brigade" President to reply to earlier letter; NO REPLY
December 11, 2001 WNCCEIB letter to Mr. Jones Byrd WNCCEIB asks "Brigade" President for opportunity to meet; NO REPLY
June 10, 2001 Asheville Citizen-Times: "Rhododendron Royal Brigade presents 21 debutantes at annual ball" Part 1 and Part 2
November 2, 2000 WNCCEIB letter to Mr. Herbert Wood WNCCEIB asks "Brigade" President for explanation for breaking the no-publicity agreement and intentions for the coming year; NO REPLY
August 19, 2000 WNCCEIB letter to Dr. Norris Crigler;WNCCEIB requests Dr. Crigler to pass along June 13, 2000 letter to Brigade President; he does so.
June 13, 2000 WNCCEIB letter to "Brigade" WNCCEIB expresses surprise at seeing photos, asks for explanation and intentions for the future; NO REPLY
June 11, 2000 Asheville Citizen-Times: "Debutantes presented at Rhododendron ball"
Part 1 and Part 2
June 9, 1993 Brigade President's letter to WNCCEIB President says Brigade will "stop all newspaper coverage in the future"
November 7, 1991 Brigade's President's letter to WNCCEIB President recounts the non-discrimination clause added to Brigade's policy
November 1, 1991 "Racially segregated debutante club shames our community" Green Line (precursor to Mt. Xpress) "Opinion" piece by Monroe Gilmour