He was 11 years old, and he and his friends were getting too big for the small, shallow public pool where they had been spending the summer of 1962.
But there was another pool, Miss Mitchell said. Riverside Park Pool in South Baltimore was Olympic-size, with a deep end. And it was open to the public — theoretically. In practice, it had yet to be integrated.
Over several days that August, Cummings and a group of two dozen African American boys marched to the swimming pool and jumped in.
Crowds of angry white residents, sometimes numbering 1,000, according to Sun coverage at the time, surrounded them. They held signs saying “Keep Our Pool Germ Free” and “White People Have Rights Too.”
“And these were adults,” Cummings remembered. They “called us every name you can imagine, everything but a child of God.”
They also shouted, “Go back to where you came from” — something Cummings recalled last summer as President Trump attacked him, attacked Baltimore and attacked freshman congresswomen of color with a similar “go back” expression.
The mob surrounded the pool, held back by a line of police with K-9 dogs, while the kids tried to splash and play. Then, over the police officers’ heads, the mob threw rocks and bottles. One of them hit Cummings in the face, cutting his eyebrow and leaving a scar he carried all his life.
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