The Carbondale Park District has announced the Mickey Johnson Memorial Scholarship, which will provide free and subsidized swimming lessons to Carbondale's youth.
The scholarship honors the memory of longtime Carbondale resident Michael (Mickey) Ann Johnson, who passed away from cancer June 17 at the age of 49.
Johnson earned a master's degree in history from SIU. In 2009, while pursuing that degree, she wrote a seminar paper entitled "Swimming the Bitterly Cold Waters of the Civil Rights Movement: A Social History of Swimming Pools in Southern Illinois."
Drawing on oral histories, newspapers, census data and local archival records, Johnson traced the history of swimming pools in Cairo, Carbondale and Herrin, showing how in each town, the pool became a site of social struggle over race, albeit in different ways. Carbondale's efforts to build a municipal pool were long undermined by the reality of residential racial segregation.
Between 2006 and 2016, as members of the Carbondale Park District worked to raise support for the Carbondale Super Splash Park, they drew on the social history Johnson charted in the paper. The community's hard work came to fruition in May 2016, when the Carbondale Super Splash Park opened to the public.
Donations to the scholarship can be made online at cpkd.org/super-splash-park.