One for Whites, One for Blacks: Public Parks and Desegregation in Charlottesville, Virginia

Echols, Margaret, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Nicoletti, Cynthia, LW-Law School Central, University of Virginia

This thesis explores the history of public recreation in Charlottesville, Virginia, beginning in the early twentieth century. In 1926, Charlottesville’s preeminent philanthropist, Paul Goodloe McIntire, donated two parks to the city of Charlottesville—one for whites, and one for blacks—and ushered in an era of public recreation in the city. Despite Supreme Court cases that mandated racially restrictive covenants unenforceable in 1948, and separate but equal facilities unconstitutional in 1954, Charlottesville’s parks would remain segregated into the 1960s. This thesis explores the role of law in the creation of Charlottesville’s public recreation and its role in enforcing segregation. By using city documents, including deeds, recreation board minutes, and city council records, a more comprehensive perspective of racial politics in Charlottesville’s public space is uncovered. This thesis argues that the creation of a dual parks system ultimately led to its workable nature and that community norms allowed for segregation to persist long after it was legally enforceable.

MA (Master of Arts)
Issued Date: