|Young members of the Phillis Wheatley YWCA of Asheville taking swimming lessons at the Walton Street Park, circa 1951.|
The black community of the Southside of Asheville wants to take this opportunity to express our serious concerns about the City of Asheville’s plan to destroy the historic Walton Street Pool.
The consensus of estimates and the long-term memories of many residents is that Walton Street Pool has been in existence for more than 60 years. We, the black community, considered it a historic site for the City of Asheville.
Black parents, grandparents and great-grandparents walked from every
area of Asheville to swim at Walton Street Pool. They had to make this
journey in the hot sun because they were not allowed, by law, to swim at
the Recreation Park Pool or in the Malvern Hills swimming pool.
Walton Street Pool is a historic site that goes back to the
segregation of blacks and whites. It dates to a time when at the Vance
Monument stood water fountains marked “white” and “black,” and blacks
were forbidden to drink from the “white” fountain.
Yes, we have come a long way from segregation. However, it is the
opinion of the black community that destroying Walton Street Pool would
not only overshadow the triumphant end to segregation but it would
destroy a milestone in black history.
It is the opinion of the black community that we were sold out by
our black leaders, starting with the Asheville City Council, Model
Cities, and Urban Renewal projects. The only people who will be
emotionally disheartened and affected by the destruction of Walton Pool
is the black community, a community that continues to be
underrepresented, silenced, and squeezed out of what we consider to be
our history. Soon there will be nothing of that history that we can
share with the current and next generation of black children.
We urge the City of Asheville to reconsider the development of
its traffic plans, so that the Walton Street Pool and Park can remain in
existence. Within the past five years the community has held a
SouthSide Family Reunion to commemorate our relatives and friends that
have passed. We have attempted to revitalize the spirit and unity of the
community that was instilled in us as children.
To erase such a landmark will be a slap in the face to the many
generations for whom the historic Walton Street Pool has come to
symbolize strength, endurance, pride, and respect.
South Side Community