Sifford, who has been called the Jackie Robinson of golf, was instrumental in getting the biggest professional golf tournament in the U.S. to terminate the “Caucasian-only” membership clause, an achievement that allowed him to play at the age of 39.
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He became a full member of the PGA Tour and notched several victories, including the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. Through those achievements, he won more than $1.2 million and became one of the PGA’s top 60 money-winners of that decade.
Among Sifford’s many accolades, he was a six-time UGA National Negro Open champion, and he received an honorary doctorate from University of St. Andrews. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. Sifford died in 2015 at the age of 92.
In addition to directing, Nelson is producing the documentary with Keith Brown, Tirrell D. Whittley, Russ Crockett and Darryl Porter.
Nelson’s recent work includes “Attica,” a non-fiction film that examines the largest prison uprising in U.S. history. It is set to have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. The filmmaker’s credits include the Emmy-winning “Freedom Riders,” “Freedom Summer,” “The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords” and “Two Dollars and a Dream.”
In 2000, Nelson and his wife, Marcia A. Smith, founded Firelight Media, a non-profit production company dedicated to using historical film to advance contemporary social justice causes. The org also focuses on mentoring a new generation of diverse young filmmakers committed to advancing underrepresented stories. Firelight received a MacArthur Award for creative and effective institutions in 2016.
Nelson is represented by WME and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. The Charlie Sifford Estate is co-represented by Phil Sandhaus/WME Legends and JLMP.
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