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New Hampshire primary sets up house seat battle

(12 Sep 2018) The race for a New Hampshire congressional district pits Republican Eddie Edwards against Democrat Chris Pappas. Edwards could become the state’s first African American representative. Pappas could become its first openly gay representative. (Sept. 12)

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Black actors make history at Creative Arts Emmys

(9 Sep 2018) Tiffany Haddish led an African-American sweep of Emmy Awards for TV series guest actors – a landmark moment in the entertainment industry’s effort to foster diversity. (Sept. 9)

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African American woman sweeps to victory in Boston vote

Ayanna Pressley, an African American woman, pulled off a surprise victory in a Democratic primary contest against a 10-term entrenched male incumbent in Boston. Her win is the latest in a series for young, female minority candidates within the Democrats.

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LeBron: African-American women ‘are most powerful women in the world’

(5 Sep 2018) LeBron James showered praise on his mother, daughter and all African-American women as he was honored with the Icon 360 Award at Harlem’s Fashion Row. (Sept. 5)

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Most Black Kids Can’t Swim. It’s Not Just A Stereotype, It’s History. (HBO)

In 2014, the CDC found that an 11-year-old black child is 10 times more likely to drown than a white child the same age. The idea that “Black people can’t swim” may sound like a stereotype, but this disparity is rooted in a history of discriminatory access to swimming pools.

This summer has produced three high-profile incidents of white Americans calling – or threatening to call – the police on Black pool goers.

A South Carolina woman was charged with multiple accounts of assault for accosting a 15-year-old boy and a police officer. A North Carolina man lost his job after a video of him calling the police on a woman who refused to show him her identification. A property manager at a Memphis apartment complex also lost her job for calling the police on a man for wearing socks in the pool.

These episodes are just the most recent in a long history of discriminatory access at American swimming pools, going back almost 100 years. VICE News spoke with Jeff Wiltse, a professor of History at the University of Montana, and the author of “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.”

“It was socially normal for blacks and whites to swim together at these public pools during the late 19th and early 20th century but that all changed during the 1920s and 1930s when cities opened up large resort like pools,” says Wiltse. “That permitted males and females to use them together.”

Wiltse said that it was at that point that white swimmers and public officials imposed racial segregation because most whites did not want to allow black men to interact with white women at such intimate public spaces.

Pools were desegregated after World War II — frequently by court order — but like America’s public schools, integration in the water was more of a legal concept than a cultural one.

Racial desegregation of public pools rarely lead to meaningful sort of interracial use, said Wiltse. “In general, whites abandoned public pools that black swimmers started to use.”

“Swimming became broadly popular within white communities and was passed down from generation to generation. Because of African-Americans more restricted access, swimming did not become a broadly popular activity among Black families.”

In 2017, USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport of swimming in the US, has found that African-American children and their parents are three times more fearful of drowning than Caucasian children and parents. Additionally, 64% of African American children have low or no swimming ability.

Dezria Holmes knows how to swim, but wouldn’t call herself a strong swimmer. She’s trying to change that for her children, 12-year old Madison and 7-year old Mason. Both are enrolled in a Chicago swimming program launched by USA Swimming, Chicago Park District, and Illinois Swimming to get a more diverse group of young people in the water.

“My grandparents couldn’t swim because of segregation,” said Holmes. “So when I saw the opportunity for my daughter to swim, and then my parents were able to see their granddaughter swim. They were actually crying, because no one in our family swims like Madison. So to be afforded this opportunity has just been amazing.”

USA Swimming has found that Black children and their parents are three times more fearful of drowning than white children and their parents. Safety was the main reason Holmes wanted her kids to learn how to swim.

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Aretha Franklin’s casket moved from museum

(30 Aug 2018) Only on AP: Aretha Franklin’s casket was moved from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Wednesday night following a two-day viewing. The Queen of Soul died on August 16th at the age of 76. (Aug. 30)

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Florida governor’s race turns ugly after primary

(30 Aug 2018) The Florida governor’s race quickly became ugly on Wednesday after republican candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis said voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by choosing his African-American opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. (Aug. 29)

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Last public viewing for Franklin draws thousands

(29 Aug 2018) People are continuing to stream in to pay their respects to Aretha Franklin as she lies for a second day in repose in the rotunda of Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. (Aug. 29)

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Thousands pay respects as Aretha Franklin lies in state

White-gloved, sharp-suited pallbearers carry the body of late US music icon and “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, who died of cancer at the age of 76, to the Charles H. Wright Museum for African American History. The late singer will lie in state for the second of two days, surrounded by enormous clouds of pink, white and purple roses. IMAGES

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Fans mourn Aretha Franklin at public viewing

(28 Aug 2018) Hundreds of mourners poured into Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to pay their final respects to Aretha Franklin, who died August 16 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. (Aug. 28)

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