Local News

Family Alleges Racism At Caswell County Pool

Posted August 11, 2006

— When Yanceyville residents Mary and Don Abele brought their biracial cousins to the Lakewood private pool, the family swimming trip was allegedly stopped short by the sting of segregation.

"It was just so sad seeing the little ones cry," said Mary Abele.

Mary Abele said a woman who identified herself as a pool associate told them the 10- and 8-year-olds were not welcome because of their race.

"She said, 'Blacks are not allowed in the pool. We as board of directors have made a decision, and there are no blacks in the pool,'" said Mary Able.

She wrote a letter to the

Caswell Messenger

expressing her outrage. Her family is also no longer members at the Lakewood pool.

Legally, because it's a private pool and they don't receive any money from state or federal government, the pool can create their own rules. It's a private provision listed in the "Civil Rights Act of 1964", which outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce, but exempted private clubs and religious organizations without defining the term "private."

"I think that most people in the county were outraged that things like that still happen," said

Messenger

editor Shanon White.

White said she received several calls about Abele's letter and wrote her own opinion piece on the topic.

"It did bring up this topic that we haven't talked about in years," White said. "Things that we should be talking about."

When racism is overlooked, the scars can last forever.

"He says, 'Okay, maybe if I paint my skin white,'" said Abele about her 8-year-old cousin. "'Maybe they'll let me go in the pool.'"

When WRAL brought cameras to the pool to ask about their policy, employees called police and told the reporter to leave, saying that the crew was trespassing on private property.

WRAL also tried calling the pool association president and manager, but they were unavailable for comment.

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