KU grad student to share research on the racial integration of Lawrence’s public pool

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Lawrence’s public pool wasn’t always welcoming for everyone, and a University of Kansas student will share at a community gathering on Saturday her research on the pool’s integration.

KU graduate student Maggie Brown-Peoples will detail her research into the history of Lawrence’s first integrated swimming pool, according to the event page on the Watkins Museum of History’s website.

Brown-Peoples is a master’s student in the Museum Studies program at KU as well as a Mellon Foundation academic programs coordinator at the Spencer Museum of Art. Her work is centered on the amplification of Black voices.

During Saturday’s event, Brown-Peoples will illustrate how the Outdoor Aquatic Center came to be the community asset it is today, and those who have lived through times of segregated swimming pools will also be welcome to share their personal stories, according to the event page.

Before there was the Outdoor Aquatic Center, there was Jayhawk Plunge — which did not welcome Black people. Relentless protesting and demanding for change eventually led to the public pool being opened to all in 1969. Even after that, the pool was still semi-segregated.

“From the protests of the Jayhawk Plunge in 1960 to the creation of the Lawrence Municipal Pool in 1969, university students, civic organizations, and others came together in one campaign of the larger Civil Rights movement,” according to the event page.

A historical marker to remember the racism in Lawrence and local community activists’ work to desegregate the pool was installed in front of the pool’s entrance in 2021. Lawrence/Douglas County Community Remembrance Project Coalition, Lawrence Kansas Branch NAACP and the City of Lawrence in September 2022 partnered to hold a formal dedication ceremony for the historical marker.

The event, called “Swimming in Change: Researching Lawrence’s First Integrated Swimming Pool” and organized by Watkins Museum of History, is scheduled for 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at the Outdoor Aquatic Center, 727 Kentucky St. The event is free and open to the public.

Visit this link to read more about the integration of the Outdoor Aquatic Center.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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