Celebrate Black History Month
February is Black History Month, where we honor and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans who have guided our country’s growth and progress. One such leader was Ella Josephine Baker. Ella Baker was a tireless fighter for the social equality of Black Americans. Whether Baker was supporting local branches of the NAACP, working behind the scenes to establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or mentoring college students through the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), she was a major force in shaping the development of the Civil Rights Movement.
This year, we honor Ella Baker by keeping her belief in freedom and equality alive until it becomes reality for every mother’s child. The theme for 2022 is Black Youth Empowerment and Equity in Swimming. This theme focuses on redefining freedom for Black youth, who sit at many intersections of gender, gender identity, age, abilities, and move to a place where they recognize their own internal power and practice that brilliance, without asking for permission.
With the high rate of drownings over the last year, especially in the Black community, we pause to honor those who have lost their lives to drowning and focus on the importance of Swim Equity as we take a deeper dive into the social history of racially segregated swimming pools during the Jim Crow era that impacted several generations of black Americans who never had any kind of access to swimming pools, geographically, economically or socially; including resources to learn how to swim.
As we move forward in our efforts to Advancing Equity and Justice for All, we recognize that dismantling the systematic racist structures in swimming won’t be easy, but our efforts to raise awareness to swim inequities and safety around water will encourage more young people to take up the sport and it will ensure equal opportunity access to swim lesson and water safety programs that will help save lives.