Essential Pittsburgh
2:47 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Voices from the Firing Line: Jim Crowe Customs in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh students on the March to DC.
Pittsburgh students on the March to DC.
Credit National Archives Foundation

Community County of Allegheny County Professor Ralph Proctor has just released his latest book Voices from the Firing Line: A Personal Account of the Pittsburgh Civil Rights Movement.

Written as a personal narrative, the book discusses demonstrations and the methodology of those in the movement, as well as the results they achieved. Proctor said he remembers a segregated Pittsburgh, even though he was far away from the Jim Crowe laws of the south.

“Swimming...black folks could not swim in Highland Park. There were two parks in North Park, one was called Sulley’s or Sculley’s, I’m forgetting now, we could swim in that, but we could not swim in the other. There was one swimming pool in North Park we were not allowed to swim in that. We had to sue the city of Pittsburgh in order to be allowed to swim in a park, in a public park, Highland Park. Kennywood Park had a swimming pool and we sued them and we got the right for black folks to swim in it. Before one black toe ever got into that water, they destroyed the pool.”

Proctor called these segregation rules, “Jim Crowe customs,” which were enforced in Pittsburgh as if they were laws. Aspects of the Jim Crowe customs in Pittsburgh are further outlined in Voices From the Firing Line: A Personal Account of the Pittsburgh Civil Rights Movement.

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