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African American children ages 5 – 19 years drown in swimming pools at rates of 5.5 times higher than those of whites (Gilchrist & Parker, 2014). Literature suggested culture is the culprit for this disparity. A fear of water dates to slavery (Pitts, 2007). After slavery was abolished, the memory of drowning remained part of the African American culture. In the twentieth century, the popularity of swimming grew with the increase in public pools. The era of the Jim Crow laws kept African Americans out of public pools (Pitts, 2007). Although the political landscape has shifted since the Jim Crow era, inequities have continued to linger. Despite the reported disparity between drowning among African Americans and others, a gap exists in the literature regarding aquatic programming at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Delaware State University (DSU) is addressing the fear of water among students on campus and among members of the surrounding community to DSU by implementing the American Red Cross Parent Orientation to Swim Curriculum. DSU’s current motto is “Making our mark on the world;” the previous motto was, “Only an educated man is free.” We prefer to recall that Plato said, “A man is not learned until he can read, write, and swim” (Silver, 2018).
Rawlins, Knolan C.
"Reestablishing a Culture of Water Competency at an HBCU,"
International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education: Vol. 11:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/ijare/vol11/iss1/5
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