Museum

The Livingston Park Swimming Beach

The Livingston Park Swimming Beach


Jackson, Mississippi and the the end of segregated pools in America

The Livingston Park Swimming Beach was one of the Jackson, Mississippi pools at the center of the US Supreme Court decision in the case of Palmer vs. Thompson (1971).  To comply with federal law, the city of Jackson, Mississippi proceeded to desegregate its public parks, auditoriums, golf courses, and the city zoo in 1962.  However, the city council decided not to try to operate the sexually charged public swimming pools on a desegregated basis.  Acting in its legislative capacity, the council surrendered its lease on one pool and closed four which the city owned. A number of Negro citizens of Jackson then filed this suit to force the city to reopen the pools and operate them on a desegregated basis.  The court ruled against the plaintiffs saying basically that irregardless of the motives, the closing of the swimming pools to everyone did not violate the equal protection clause of the constitution.  In hindsight we can see that the closure of the great pools around the country for either financial or racist reasons after the "golden age of swimming" (1900 - 1945) disenfranchised both races of the right to swim and was a great blow to swimming as the nation's most popular pastime. 




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