‘Doing the right thing’: University Club honoring community members previously denied entry for race, gender

ORLANDO, Fla. — Decades after shutting out women, Jews and Black people, the University Club is now honoring some of the community members they previously wouldn’t let in.

That includes Channel 9′s first female evening news anchor, Carole Nelson; Central Florida’s first Black photojournalist, Tee Taylor; and the Ninth Circuit Court’s first elected Black judge, Belvin Perry.

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“At the time I was just embarrassed. I felt shame. I felt anger,” Nelson said.

The drama surrounding Nelson being kicked out of the club in the 1970s made national headlines.

University Club President Craig Swygert said today things are different at the club in every way.

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The building was torn down and rebuilt, and the membership has changed dramatically.

Still, Swygert felt the club needed to try and right its wrongs by offering Nelson, Perry and Taylor lifetime memberships and honoring their accomplishments.

“Yes, we can say, ‘look at our board because our board is very diverse,’ but to actually acknowledge it and not ignore it, to me sends the signal that we’re doing the right thing,” Swygert said. “And we don’t just say what we’re doing. We mean what we’re doing.”

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All three will be honored at the club in a dinner on Tuesday.

Swygert said he wants to give them a chance to share their stories about the club’s history, and why the work they do in the future in elevating diverse voices is so important.

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.