Natatorium hosts scholarly panel on human rights memorials

Author: Carol C. Bradley

Engman Natatorium, South Bend

South Bend’s Engman Natatorium, 1040 W. Washington St., will host a panel discussion, What Should We Remember? Memorials, History, and Human Rights, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11.

The event and reception, which are free and open to the public, are presented by the University of Notre Dame Law School’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, Notre Dame Downtown and IUSB’s Civil Rights Heritage Center at the Natatorium.

Erika Doss, professor and chair of the Department of American Studies, will discuss the impulse to establish memorials. Carlos Jerez-Farrán, Notre Dame professor of Spanish and author of “Unearthing Franco’s Legacy: Mass Graves and the Recovery of Historical Memory in Spain,” will describe political memory as a political act in post-Franco Spain. Doug Cassel, an international human rights law specialist in the Law School, will discuss the role of memorials in transitional justice. The panel will be moderated by Sean O’Brien, the event’s organizer and assistant director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Sean O'Brien, Law School O’Brien

Kevin Lamarr James, IU South Bend assistant professor of sociology and director of the Civil Rights Heritage Center at the Natatorium, will discuss the building’s history. The one-time public swimming pool, segregated during the Jim Crow years when state and federal laws mandated racial separation, now houses the South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center. The center features exhibits, photographs, a library, community space and the old check-in counter where African-American and white swimmers were separated.

“It was a whites-only facility,” James says. “It wasn’t until the late 1950s that blacks were allowed to use the facility, and then at separate times from whites. This is part of our relatively recent past, within the lifetimes of the adult generation here in South Bend.”

For more information, contact Sean O’Brien, 574-631-8544 or