Watch: A Short History of “Racial Pool Panic” on ‘Nightly Show’

"Swimming While Black" on 'The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore'

“Swimming While Black” on ‘The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore’

In light of the recent mayhem at a Texas pool party, Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore conducted a Special Public Pool History Edition of his Knowledge College segment on Monday.

“Racial pool panic is nothing new in this country,” he said. “For decades blacks were barred from municipal pools despite the fact they paid taxes like everybody else, and when they finally tried to use the pools white people rioted.”

He then laid a couple of examples: In 1938, a ‘race riot’ broke out in Pittsburgh when whites and blacks clashed over use of a public swimming pool. In 1949, on the first day blacks were permitted to swim at a public pool in St. Louis, hundreds of whites surrounded a dozen black swimmers and attacked them. And here’s a hotel owner in Florida dumping acid into a pool to get black swimmers out. Nowadays there’s a common stereotype that black people don’t know how to swim. Of course we don’t know how to swim, there’s acid in the fucking pool!”

Watch the full clip below, and for further reading I suggest Jeff Wiltse‘s article, America’s swimming pools have a long, sad, racist history.

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