AUSTIN - Hundreds of people turned out for a marker dedication that memorializes the Lions Municipal Golf Course as a significant site for civil rights history on Saturday morning.
80-year-old General Marshall wouldn't have missed this day for the world.
"Oh, Muny is everything to me," said Marshall.
Marshall first learned how to play golf at the Muny golf course 70 years ago. That's when he first started caddying at Muny at the young age of 10. That's also when segregation was still legal.
"You wouldn't believe this. There were a lot of people against us playing but there were some golfers, who we caddied for, and if we got out on the holes and it was just a single, they would let us use their golf clubs, give us balls to hit, and let us learn the game," explained Marshall.
It was that attitude that allowed Austin to have the first racially integrated public golf course in the country. Years before separate but equal laws were declared illegal.
"Council member, Emma Long, made this statement, ‘let them play.’ And they let them play and from that point on, without any legislation, the course was integrated. And you talk about happy, I was a proud African American young man to see other African Americans across from the state of Texas come to Austin," said Marshall.
Such rich history is the reason Muny was added to the National Register of Historic Places in July.
But it was also added to the list of Most Endangered Historic Places earlier this month. The University of Texas Board of Regents wants to shut down Muny when its lease expires in 2019 and replace it with a mixed-use development.
"Here we go again," said Mary Arnold, a member of the group Save Muny.
This is the third time 81-year-old Mary Arnold is fighting UT. The university’s Board of Regents has already sold off acres of the donated Brackenridge tract of land for development twice before.
A stone lion has been greeting visitors at Muny since 1924. Supporters hope it sticks around.
But with less than three years to go until the lease is up and UT takes the land back, Save Muny supporters know that the real work is just beginning.
The group started a petition a few days ago which will eventually be sent to the city council and the board of regents.
Here's more of KVUE'S Jenni Lee interview with General Marshall:
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