Black Mob Violence In Swimming Pools. A Long History

The Washington Post wasted no time in explaining why 200 black people at a private pool in McKinney, Texas attacked members of the club, bullied their children, destroyed their property, and assaulted their security guard when he invited them to leave.

White racism.

“America’s swimming pools have a long, sad, racist history,” intoned the Post a few days after the now infamous episode of aquatic black mob violence. “They’ve long been contested spaces where we express prejudices that otherwise remain unspoken.”

The Post columnist, Jeff Wiltse, knows all about that because of all the bad things that happened 80-90 years ago when then, as now, black people were inexorable victims of relentless white racism all the time, everywhere and that explained everything.

Since the Post story, black mob violence at swimming pools has erupted at least two more times.

Once, last Tuesday in Fairfield, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. Video shows a mob of black people attacking police and others officials after several black people were asked to leave the pool for breaking the rules.

“Everything’s going crazy,” said a young pool employee to the 911 operator, as reported by WLTW TV news. “They’re videotaping trying to make it seem like a racist thing but it’s not at all. They were breaking our policy and we told them they could not be here anymore. And it’s really scary and I don’t feel safe,” she said, crying.

At one point in the assault, a black mother told her child to retrieve her taser from her purse, “so that I can tase the officer,” said WCPO News.

Three police officers were injured. Four black people were arrested.

Then it happened one more time: Saturday night, more than 200 black people at a pool party in a suburb of Atlanta were in the midst of a large fight when 15 gun shots rang out. Five were wounded. One fatally.

While we await the verdict of white racism from the pundits at the Washington Post, perhaps it would be useful to turn to another eyewitness of America’s long history of black on white violence and black mob violence at swimming pools.

This unlikely chronicler is the Vice-President of the United States of America, Joseph Robinette Biden. He talked about his brush with black on white violence at a swimming pool in his autobiography — and several times since.

In the summer of 1962, the 19-year old Joe Biden worked as a lifeguard at pool called Price’s Run in the black section of Wilmington, Delaware. Biden lived in the suburbs. Your humble scribe lived 10 blocks away.

According to Biden: “Of the dozen lifeguards working at the pool that summer, I was the only white guy. Of the hundreds of people who swam at Price’s Run every day, few were white.… So I was a fascination to everybody at Prices Run. Most of the people I got to know there had literally never really talked to a white person.”

One day early in his life saving career, Biden remembered how: 

“’Corn Pop’ wouldn’t stop bouncing on the high board. That was one of the clear rules at the diving boards, and I guess I wanted everybody to know I wasn’t an easy mark. So I whistled to him and told him to stop the bouncing. He didn’t stop. So I whistled again. ‘Hey, Esther! Esther Williams!’

“I yelled, loud enough for everybody to hear the joke. Esther was the queen of the fifties water spectacular movies. ‘Get off the board, man. You’re out of here.’

“And I threw him out of the pool. The other guards told me Corn Pop would be waiting for me outside the chain-link fence and that he’d probably have a straight razor to use on me when I went for my car. The story was that a few years earlier the former white captain of the lifeguards had been cut so badly that he’d required forty stitches to close up his back.”

Not to worry, Biden and Corn Pop became fast friends after Biden threatened him with a chain, then apologized for kicking him out.

Biden spent the rest of his summer learning about how black people are victims of white racism, he said.

As for what happened to the white lifeguard who was nearly killed with a knife at the hands of a black assailant, not a word.

That was hardly Biden’s only experience with black on white racial hostility that summer. In 2012, speaking at a national convention of the NAACP, Biden singled out Richard Smith, aka, “Mouse.”   

“Hey, Mouse, how you doing man,” said Biden as he pointed to Mouse, who today is the President of the Delaware NAACP and likes to tell reporters that cops are nothing but Klan members without the sheets.

“Mouse and I go back a long ways, to the days when I was a public defender. Even before that. In the days when I was the only white employee on the East Side. Remember Mouse? By the way, Mouse got my back a bunch of times,” Biden said to knowing laughter from a convention full of people who knew how white lifeguards are soft targets at black pools.

Mouse remembers. He told Delaware Today, “he and Joe Biden used to pal around at Price’s Run pool as teenagers, and that he sometimes acted as Joe’s personal bodyguard.”

Lots of other folks remember too: The black news site,, remembers:

“That day at the pool was fateful. It was there that Delaware's star politician earned the respect of the African-American community,” said Chana Garcia of The Root.

“My dad, a retired federal parole officer, and his friends, many of whom hung out at the city pool back in the day, regularly rattle off stories about ‘Joe.’ Several of them attended fundraisers at his house or called his office to air grievances. But the Corn Pop run-in, which the vice president also recounts in his autobiography, Promises to Keep, is the one story they keep in heavy rotation.”

Anyone who needs to put more stories of black mob violence into their rotation, they are easy to find in Don’t Make then Black Kids Angry.

There’s the one from Baltimore last summer, where 50 to 100 black people were kicked out of a swimming pool for violence and mayhem. They went to the park next door and stole 40 bikes and threatened the attendants.

Then of course New York City, if you want to go Old School, a cop sent me a clip from 1993  New York Times, where large groups of black people were sexually assaulting bathers. City officials proposed getting a rap group to write a song to stop the practice of whirlpooling: Where large groups of black surround a woman in the pool, strip off her suit, then assault her.

They even named their PR campaign: “Don’t Dis Your Sis.”

Today, residents who live near public swimming pools in New York dread the opening day of summer because of the black violence in the pools and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Ditto for the other swimming pool in Wilmington called Canby Park. It closed 15 years ago, ostensibly for repairs. But neighbors spent one hour on a radio show talking about the black mob violence connected to the pool, and how the black city officials ignored it because they said it was just white people complaining about black people for No Reason What So Ever.


Colin Flaherty is the author of the best selling book Dont Make the Black Kids Angry. He briefly swam in Prices Run pool one time in the summer of 1962.