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Melvin Brown (center) will participate in The Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative’s Living Your Truth series on Tuesday. file/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

The Charleston Rifle Club's first black candidate who was denied membership into the all-white organization will speak at a Sophia Institute forum Tuesday night.

Melvin Brown, who was refused membership into the private club at a meeting in the fall, and Andrew Savage, Brown’s co-sponsor at the meeting, will participate in the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative’s Living Your Truth series.

Local attorney Dwayne Green will moderate the conversation, centered around friendship, membership and discrimination, and invite questions from the audience.

The two-hour long event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Mount Zion AME Church at 5 Glebe St. in downtown Charleston. The event is free, but guests are asked to register at

In October, the Charleston Rifle Club refused to admit Brown, the only one of a group of 14 men who was blackballed at the meeting. The other 13 candidates, all white, were granted membership.

"The club’s anonymous voting process, which allows for only six votes to blackball a candidate, reinforced the club’s 164-year practice of race-based discrimination," said Sophia Institute leaders in a release.

Brown is an emergency room doctor. He is a Navy veteran and Medical University of South Carolina graduate. He serves on the board of directors for MUSC and Porter-Gaud School.

Savage is a pediatric cardiologist and medical director of ambulatory services and pediatric heart failure and transplant with the MUSC Children’s Hospital.

Following the Rifle Club incident, several organizations severed ties with the group, including the Kiwanis Club of Charleston and March of Dimes. The National Action Network called on the organization to end its “racist membership policy." Employees with Harold's Cabin, a popular eatery downtown where Brown is a regular, offered support by changing the businesses' name to Mel's Cabin for a few days.

The Sophia Institute's Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative, who's members helped draft the apology language used by Charleston City Council for the city’s role in supporting the institution of slavery, seeks a "just, sustainable, and thriving community where all people are empowered to fulfill their human potential," according to the release.

The Living Your Truth series has included conversations about issues surrounding racial injustice. Past events have included guests such as Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, local historian Damon L. Fordham, the Rev. Kylon Middleton and Charleston attorney Thomas Tisdale.

Follow Rickey Dennis on Twitter @RCDJunior.

Rickey Dennis covers North Charleston and faith & values for the Post and Courier.

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