Beeks also points out that African-American girls -- who swim at even lower rates than boys -- often don't want to get their hair wet. Water tangles it nearly beyond repair and ruins expensive, elaborate hair styles.A bigger reason, however, maybe the lingering social stigma involved with swimming. As the P-D does mention, blacks were banned from public pools in St. Louis until the late 1940s. When the pools were opened, it triggered a race riot.
"It keep them from having fun, from staying cool on hot days, from having a lifeguard job and from encouraging their own kids to learn how to swim," he said.
Shortly before 9 p.m. the crowd spread out in an extended 'company front,' stretching from west to east, and moved on the run northward to Kossuth Avenue as another shout went up that a Negro had been seen near Kossuth....
A reporter who reached the scene almost with the crowd found another Negro being attacked from all sides. He was beaten on a sidewalk leading to a residence in the 3700 block of Kossuth. Pushed, shoved, kicked, struck with clubs, he finally sought refuge on a porch. He was rescued by the police and taken to Homer G. Phillips Hospital.
As police drove off with the man there were numerous expressions of amazement from the crowd that he could live after the punishment he had received. "Why I kicked him twice in the head myself," a 16-year-old boy remarked, incredulously.