SOUTH BEND, Ind — On Wednesday, ABC57 shared the story of a once segregated public swimming pool turned into the Civil Rights Heritage Center, now the center is helping launch a series of children’s books to educate future generations about the struggles against unfairness.
The “Ripples in the Water” series was inspired by Barbara V. Brandy, a little black girl who was refused entry to the old natatorium because of the color of her skin.
His son, who is the author of the first book in the series, told ABC57 he thinks it’s important for local children to know and learn about stories like these.
“Planting these seeds early can be life changing in how someone views others and it’s during the building blocks of this age group that were included in sevens to nines,” said Kenneth Brandy, Executive Director by Ripples in the Water and Barbara. V. Brandy Foundation.
Kenneth Brandy is the son of Barbara, a local civil rights icon known as the six-year-old black girl in the red bathing suit, once turned away from the former segregated natatorium in the 1930s because of the color of her skin.
Kenneth learned of his mother’s experience when he was just three years old and he says it’s not only important for him to share his story with other children, but also to share how so many have overcome injustices here in South Bend.
“I think it’s important because it tells a story that there is no level of discrimination, it can be done on all levels and then and metaphorically and sometimes physically today.”
“This book series is a big event that will happen over the next few years here in town to give voices from the past but for the future,” Indiana University English professor Joe Chaney added to South Bend and director of Wolfson Press.
The organizations said they also hope to engage Michiana students at all levels with the goal of sharing, educating and connecting them to local black history.
“For our students to collaborate with local students, the artist who will create the artwork and hopefully potentially local students working on graphic design,” explained Kelcey Ervick, an English teacher at the Indiana University South Bend, who is also Director of the Publishing Center.
“To be able to connect it to the fact that they walked the same streets, they may have gone to the same school, you know they may know their grandchildren, they can relate to that and , hopefully building something positive out of what happened to these icons that we will be covering in this book series,” Brandy added.
The series is a collaborative effort between the Brandy Foundation, IUSB’s Civil Rights Heritage Center, and Wolfson press.
The first book will share Barbara’s story “The Little Girl in the Red Bathing Suit” and is set to launch next February.
The foundation also said it hopes to continue launching new books each year that will be shared beyond Black History Month.