“Heat, Humidity and Humbug”: The Integration of the Municipal Swimming Pool in York, Pennsylvania, 1947–1954
- The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 144, Number 1, January 2020
- pp. 89-113
- Additional Information
This study of the closure, lease, and integration of the municipal pool in York, Pennsylvania, from 1947–1954 shows the important but limited value of the integration of a single recreational facility. The uneventful opening and use of the integrated pool were points of pride for civil rights activists and other city leaders, but the coalition that worked to open an integrated pool was motivated by more than racial justice. Supportive of integration but not outspoken about civil rights in the years leading up to the reopening of the pool, the businessmen and civic leaders who directed the Boys Club offered the solution to the controversy after other leaders and civil rights organizations lobbied city council, staged protests, and filed lawsuits. Building on key legal precedents, the York chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched successful lawsuits to stop York city council from leasing or selling the pool in order to avoid integration; J. W. Gitt’s radical newspaper, the York Gazette and Daily, kept the injustice of segregation on its front page; and then city boosters provided financial backing to fix the embarrassment of the decaying pool.