In the summer of 1949, four boys went to their local pool for a swim. The 13,000-square-foot municipal pool in Beloit, Wisconsin, had been heralded as a “sumptuous structure of artistic workmanship”—a great place to while away a summer’s day.
But when the boys tried to enter, an attendant refused to let them in because of their skin color. They were told to go to the city’s much smaller second public pool—one unofficially designated for Black swimmers—instead.
Though Beloit did not have a formal segregation policy like cities in the Jim Crow-era South, its pool was one of thousands throughout the United States that were off-limits to swimmers of color throughout the 20th century, evidence of a racist