Answered By: Emilie Smart
Last Updated: Sep 01, 2015     Views: 182

The bowl-shaped depression behind the Baton Rouge Gallery used to be an enormous swimming pool. The following incidents during the civil rights era lead to its being filled in following unforeseen damage from "an earthquake"

City Park pool at that time was restricted to white swimmers only. When a court decision in another state threatened to set the stage for the desegregation of public swimming pools in 1963, City Park pool was closed. Two years later, the pool was filled with dirt.

(The Advocate, May 1 2006 "Pools conjure up memories BREC closure plane draws attention" byline: Scott Dyer)

The Dive-In
30 people participated in the "Dive-In". Of those 5 were arrested, and in the general melee Robert G. Clanton, a Sheriff's deputy, managed to get himself assaulted. Police Chief Wingate White was on the scene with reinforcements.

It was noted that none of the participants at the "Dive-In" had swimsuits or towels

The FBI was present to observe the scene. It was revealed later that Reverend Arthur L. Jelks Sr., of the local chapter of the NAACP was responsible for organizing the "Dive-In"

(source: M.A. 24 June 1963)

Arrestees
Arrested were

    * Betty Jean Wilson, 21
    * James Frederick Williams, 28
    * Sam Green, 21
    * Pearl Lee George, 26
    * Richard Thompson, 21
    * Most of the participants lived at either 4161 or 4105 Provost Street.


Biracial Committee Reaction
The biracial committee, comprising 21 blacks and 21 whites discussed the incident in a private session.

Protests
Under watch from FBI agents, on 25 June 1963, Arthur C. Jelks and 8 African-American protestors picketed City-Park's pool.
Jelks was quoted to say: "The Biracial Committee is Sleeping on our Rights!"

source:
M.A. 24 June 1963
M.A 25 June 1963