The Civil Rights interviews that I filmed in October premiered (if I may use that word) on Saturday at the Upcountry History Museum where they’ll remain through June 15 as part of an interactive exhibit designed by Don Koonce of FernCreek Creative. The name of the exhibit is “Protests, Prayers, & Progress: Greenville’s Civil Rights Movement” and the promotional piece that I edited for the exhibit is posted here.
One of the interview subjects tells a story that reminds me of everyone who’s ever said about anything, “If that were true, the media would be all over it“.
At the time that desegregation became the law of the land, there was a large whites-only public swimming pool at Cleveland Park. Hoping to dissuade blacks from swimming there, someone – presumably city employees – put seals in the pool. Yes, the mammalian kind that balance beach balls on the tips of their pointy noses.
This stroke of jackass white cracker genius backfired, however, because not only did it fail to dissuade black bathers, but the chlorine in the pool killed the seals. Soon thereafter, the pool was filled in and paved over.
Amazingly, residents of Greenville read nothing about seal-gate in their newspaper of record. No feature, no brief. A Furman University history professor associated with the Upcountry History Museum project who has searched archives of the period says that the The Greenville News, for whatever reason, appears to have decided that the story wasn’t worth covering.
Which I guess means that it never happened.