Joan Elizabeth Means Khabele was an activist and scholar from Austin. Her courageous act of swimming in Barton Springs to protest segregation at the pool sparked the civil rights era swim-ins that eventually led to the desegregation of Barton Springs Pool.
The event will be on Saturday, April 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
There will be free entry to the pool before 12 p.m. and free valet parking from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents who plan to attend should note that swimming will pause from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The event honoring Joan Means Khabele will include a proclamation, speakers, and a water blessing ceremony performed by Geraldo Perez. The PBS documentary featuring Khabele talking about her swim at Barton Springs will also be screened at the pool.
There will be listening booths set up for community members to share oral histories and personal experiences regarding race and Barton Springs, according to a press release on the event. The oral histories will become part of an exhibit, virtual and physical, that will be featured on-site at the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center.
Joan Elizabeth Means Khabele was an activist and scholar from Austin. Her courageous act of swimming in Barton Springs to protest segregation at the pool sparked the civil rights era swim-ins that eventually led to the desegregation of Barton Springs
Born at Holy Cross Hospital in East Austin, Joan Elizabeth Means Khabele attended Blackshear Elementary School and Kealing Junior High. She was among the third group of students to integrate to Austin High School in the late 1950s, according to an interview she did with Austin PBS.
In her senior year, she was a student leader in activism that led to the integration of Barton Springs and Zilker Park. After not being allowed to swim at her high school senior picnic, she was the first Black person to jump into Barton Springs Pool in an act of civil disobedience. In doing so, she sparked a movement of swim-ins that took place on a weekly basis throughout the summer of 1960.