Segregation Prevented Black Children From Entering Their Camps

Children at Kosciusko pool
Shonda Buchanan
October 5, 2020

Edward Smith grabbed his cousin’s hand. The 7-year old eagerly awaited his mom’s word – but when she turned to them with sad eyes, he knew the answer was “no.” 

It was sweltering hot. Why couldn’t they attend the YMCA’s summer swim camp?

Little Vincent and Edward didn’t know they’d waded into dangerous Jim Crow territory. The YMCA refused to honor the Civil Rights Act’s desegregation rulings

Swimming While Black was dangerous – whites violently protected pools, some even tossing in ACID when Blacks swam!

The Southern Poverty Law Center sued on behalf of the boys – but the racists wouldn’t budge.

That was, until they uncovered a secret 1958 city agreement that purposely transferred recreational activities to the YMCA, a “private organization,” so it could maintain segregation! But the worst insult was yet to come.

Instead of desegregating, Montgomery closed swimming pools, parks, and recreational facilities, going as far as filling pools with dirt or concrete to keep us out!

Whites destroyed their own summer fun just to punish us, but eventually the YMCA was forced to relent.

Black Americans still swim at much lower rates than whites. As we raise and uplift our children, we must remember the impact of this legacy and continue to fight!

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