Friday, September 2, 2016

"Swimming while black: the legacy of segregated public pools lives on"

TG (article is from last year):
a first wave of investment into public pools that started in the 1920s and 1930s.

During that time, Wiltse says, thousands of public pools were opened across the country, creating a culture of swimming for millions of Americans. But the pools were segregated, and only a fraction of them were destined for black Americans.

When desegregation of public spaces was forced across the nation by federal ruling starting in the 1950s and gradually taking effect across the land through the 1960s, a few significant things happened to once booming public swimming pools, Wiltse says.

First, with the idea that black Americans were now set to benefit en masse from the existence of public pools, investment by white public officials dropped.

Second, black and white swimmers were still far from a step closer to sharing the same body of water. In the north, white swimmers abandoned public pools and headed to the suburbs, themselves a federally sanctioned all-white project. There, community pools were set up for residents and private swim clubs blossomed.