Monroe Swim-Ins (July 25, 1957)

Dr. Perry, the physician, told the newspaper that they still intended to bring “legal action to secure use of the pool.” The article further shared there were a few other Negro leaders within the community who were opposed to trying to integrate the facility. 

The pool was part of a recreational area once called Lake Lee Park. Later, it was known as it is today, Monroe Country Club and Golf Course. It was built over a period of time from 1935-37 and consisted of the swimming pool, a park, clubhouse and a nine-hole golf course. The bulk of the monies came from the Federal government via the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.), approximately $106,000.00. The City of Monroe provided about $31,000.00 in both goods and cash.

The Monroe Journal (Sept. 17, 1935, p1) announced it would be “a community affair, open to the people…of Monroe and Union County…” but the pool nor any part of the place was “open to the people” since black citizens were barred admission. Perhaps even more telling was the Monroe Enquirer’s article about three weeks earlier. It quoted a sentence from the WPA application that the funds would “provide a place of recreation for every class of citizen of Monroe and Union County.”

The City Council minutes of August 20th of 1957 reveal that a delegation consisting of the President, Vice-President and three other members of the local NAACP, attended the meeting. This group, including Dr. Albert Perry, the same who was interviewed earlier by the Durham newspaper, presented a letter. Part of it read “that the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation of the City…refused solely on the grounds of race to our Negro Citizens the use of the City-owned swimming pool.”

Adapted from an essay submitted with historical marker application by Robert Heath and Patricia Poland

“WPA Approves Funds For Monroe Park Job.” The Monroe Enquirer 26 Aug 1935
“Lake Lee Project has been Given Final Approval.” The Monroe Journal 17 Sept 1935
“8 Negro Youths Refused Admission to City Pool.” The Monroe Enquirer 25 July 1957
“KKK Threatens Monroe: Prominent physician receives menacing call from Klan.” The Carolina Times 17 Aug 1957
“Negro Group Seeks Separate Swimming Facility in City.” The Monroe Enquirer 22 June 1961
“Monroe Teenagers Set to Stage ‘Wade-in’.” The Carolina Times 24 June 1961
“Negroes Demonstrate at Monroe Pool.” The Charlotte Observer 26 June 1961
“Monroe Youth Says Pickets Closed Pool.” The Carolina Times 1 July 1961
“Neighborhood Facility Opened Here Saturday.” The Monroe Enquirer-Journal 5 July 1971
Welles, Henry. “Few Reminders Remain of 1961 Unrest.” The Enquirer-Journal 13 Sept 1981
Gomlak, Norman. “Summertime and the pool is cool.” The Charlotte Observer, Two ed., sec. Union Observer, 6 July 1997
Craft, Mary-Kathryn. “Unveiling of new Winchester pool gets 4th target date-Saturday.” The Charlotte Observer, Two ed., sec. Union Observer, 10 July 1998
Tyson, Timothy. Radio Free Dixie:  Robert F. Williams & the Roots of Black Power.  USA:  The University of North Carolina Press, 1999