Houston, TX - “You have to know the past to understand the present.”-Sagan
Excerpts from Chron.com, by Lauren Mathis:
It was 1960, when Johnnie Means was told his students, who were black, couldn’t take part in a Houston swimming meet. The experience inspired a young black coach during the turbulent era of segregation. In the summer of 1960, the Amateur Athletic Union invited all Houston-area YMCAs to a swimming meet. The event was held at the then-segregated Houston Shamrock Hilton, which was razed in 1987. Though the coach and his swimmers won the right to participate, competing wasn’t easy. His swimmers often attracted stares and worse from white players, coaches and spectators.
Read the Full Article From Chron.com, by Lauren Mathis Here _________________________________________________________________________________________________
After meeting with Coach Means this morning I went for a quick swim at his facility. During my swim I thought about how thankful I am that many of the blatant events described above seem to happen LESS OFTEN in the 2000s (recent incident here). The denial of access described above is one factor that has a direct correlation to present swimming disparities. The U of Memphis Study II found that parents’ ability to swim often has an impact on whether their children are taught to swim. As Dr. Carl Sagan once stated “You have to know the past to understand the present.”
In this instance it would appear that the past has effected our present and serves as a contributor to the current swimming statistics in the US...It would be easy if it were just that simple...Coach Means (and others) would point out that in some areas the legally segregated pools offered more swimming opportunities for black swimmers than the so called “desegregated” period that followed..interesting... So here in the present as we progress forward, we stand on these giants’ shoulders in an attempt to see further, and tasked with striving to positively and effectively leave an impact on the future.
So I say thank you Mr. Means and the countless others, who fought this injustice, it was not in vein. As you said "You can legislate laws, But you can't legislate hearts and minds."
My swim was a great start to the day, and I was blessed to do so, even grabbed a sip of water from the fountain on the way out...cause I can.
Swim, Swim On!
Shaun Anderson, Johnnie Means, Manny Banks