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Media Advisory: KU expert can discuss significance of swimming pools, racial segregation

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

LAWRENCE — Police in McKinney, Texas, in the last week have received criticism, and one officer has resigned after a video surfaced on YouTube of him forcing a 14-year-old African-American girl to the ground.

The incident began last weekend when officers had initially responded to a large gathering of teenagers at a neighborhood association community swimming pool in the Dallas suburb, according to national news reports. Historians since the civil rights movement have studied issues related to public swimming pools and the development of private swimming pools.

Randal Maurice Jelks, professor of American Studies and African American Studies, can speak about how access to swimming pools has played a role in racial segregation and class issues in the United States. Jelks, a U.S. Fulbright scholar, studies social movements of the 20th century, including the U.S. civil rights movement, and he has written an award-winning book, "Benjamin Elijah Mays: Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography." Mays was a mentor of Martin Luther King Jr. Jelks also authored the 2006 book "African Americans in the Furniture City: The Civil Rights Struggle in Grand Rapids," which examined the African American community over a century in the Michigan city.