Understanding the history of racism in South Bend
Assistant director of the Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center
Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center
In 1922, the City of South Bend opened its first public swimming pool—the Engman Public Natatorium. Though the word “public” was carved above the door, the Natatorium’s staff and leadership chose to deny entry to African Americans. First excluded completely through 1936 and then segregated for another fourteen years, the Natatorium was not desegregated until 1950. After sitting vacant for decades, the space was transformed and today allows the public to dive deep into the history of segregation and the African American experience in South Bend.
“South Bend Uprising”
This episode from the Civil Rights Heritage Center’s South Bend’s Own Words podcast series talks about what happened during the “hot summer” of 1967, when South Bend rose up alongside 159 other American cities. This is a good way to root your learning about today’s fight for racial justice in the historic fight. It shows how we have not addressed the systems of injustice that oppress Black people today as they have for more than 150 years.
“A Secret Meeting in South Bend”
This podcast episode from WNYC’s United States of Anxiety focuses on the Better Homes of South Bend neighborhood. It shares the story of a group of African American Studebaker employees who worked together in secret to buy land and build homes on South Bend’s far west side in 1950. It discusses the contemporary legacy of systemic housing discrimination.
African American Landmark Tour
From Linden School to Robertson’s Department Store, tour 17 sites with significant historical ties to the African American experience in South Bend. While most sites are not publicly accessible, information about each is available online and printed on signs at most of the locations. Organized by the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center this tour is offered online and in person.
Michiana Memory Civil Rights and African American History Collection
This digital collection of primary historical sources provides insights into the experiences of African Americans in our community and their long struggle for equal civil rights. Photographs, historic newspaper articles and original documents chronicle the lived experiences of real people in our community. Michiana Memory is a partnership between the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center and the St. Joseph County Public Library combining the archival collections of both institutions.
The Negro In South Bend
Part of the “On Their Shoulders” book series published by Indiana University South Bend, this is a reprint of a 1922 study by the Rev. Buford Gordon, sociologist and pastor of what is now First AME Zion Church. Additional books in the series feature the research of IU South Bend students looking at segregation in the early 1960s and the history of the Hering House community center.