Place

A.D. Clark Pool

A.D. Clark Pool opened at the Roberson Street Center (now Hargraves Center) in June 1961. Prior to the opening of the pool, young people in the Black community swam in local creeks (including one by the railroad trestle near the public works building) and swimming holes like the 88 and the Catfish hole. Neighbors recall a lot of fun swimming in those natural areas, but also young swimmers having to navigate snakes and sometimes becoming ill with typhoid after swimming in contaminated water.

When Black high school students challenged the university about why white Chapel Hill High School students were allowed to swim in UNC's pool when Black high school students were not, an unknown white man offered to pay for a swimming pool for the Black community rather than see the pool on campus integrate. When the would-be donor objected to civil rights activism in the Black community, he withdrew his support and Cornelia Spencer Love, who knew Adolphus Clark from his work with the university, stepped into provide $40,000 in funding for the pool. The amount was insufficient, and so the Black community chipped in by providing labor to build the pool itself and raising funds to build the bath house.

Black businesses came together to host fundraising dinners and neighbors gave generously to raise the funds quickly and the pool was opened in 1961 and named after Adolphus Clark, first president of the local NAACP and long-time community activist. A.D. Clark Pool provided the Black community with a safe space for young people to get together, good jobs for teens in the community who worked as lifeguards and at the snack bar, and an opportunity for many members of the community to learn how to swim.

A.D. Clark Pool
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Citation: “A.D. Clark Pool,” From the Rock Wall, accessed October 6, 2022, https://fromtherockwall.org/places/ad-clark-pool.

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