Segregated public pools has a lasting effect on Black America

During Black History Month, with the sequence 28 Black stories in 28 days, USA TODAY Sports examines the problems, challenges and alternatives Black athletes and sports activities officers face after the nation’s reckoning on race in 2020.

Raoul Cunningham was hesitant, however he and his mates saved strolling anyway.

He thought of their security as they minimize by Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood headed towards Algonquin Park. They had been going to swim within the previously whites-only Algonquin pool for the primary time.

It was the primary week of June in 1956, he recollects, and Louisville Mayor Andrew Broaddus had signed off on an order the yr previous to formally finish racial segregation of public parks and pools. That yr, 1955, the Algonquin pool nonetheless operated as a whites-only pool as a result of it had simply been constructed, however this summer season that may all change. 

When Cunningham and his mates reached the pool, the target was clear: “We wanted to make sure we were going to be safe and that nothing was going to happen (to us),” he stated. 

As pools started to desegregate throughout the nation, many Black swimmers had been met with competition. Whites threw nails to the underside of pools in Cincinnati and poured bleach and acid in pools in St. Augustine, Florida. And within the decade prior, there have been main riots at pools in Baltimore, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington D.C. as Black swimmers entered unwelcomed waters.

Cunningham, the president of the Louisville branch of NAACP today, doesn’t recall main disturbances when Black swimmers arrived at Algonquin, however “I’m sure not everyone accepted it,” he stated, “but we went immediately to the pool,” and on the most “somebody might call you an N-word,” for being there.  

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