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Swimming for civil rights

Monday, March 21, 2022 by Tai Moses

Joan Means Khabele was a high school senior in Austin when she courageously crossed the color line and jumped into Barton Springs Pool, which was then segregated by race. Her act of civil disobedience sparked a movement of swim-ins that continued through the summer of 1960 and eventually led to the desegregation of the iconic pool. Khabele died in October 2021 at the age of 78. The Parks and Recreation Department is honoring her memory and her bravery with a ceremony at Barton Springs Pool that includes a proclamation, speakers, the screening of a PBS documentary featuring Khabele, and a water blessing ceremony performed by Geraldo Perez. Community members will have the opportunity to share oral histories about race and Barton Springs at listening booths. This is the first of many events planned by the parks department “to collect diverse stories to tell the full history of Barton Springs.” Saturday, April 9, 10 a.m.-noon.

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