Petersburg once closed this lake rather than let African-Americans swim there. Soon it will reopen to all swimmers.

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PETERSBURG, Va. — Wilcox Lake in Petersburg will reopen nearly 60 years after it closed in an effort to prevent it from becoming desegregated, the City of Petersburg announced Monday. The Petersburg City Council recently approved a motion to reopen the lake to swimmers.

“This decision does not immediately reopen the lake for recreational swimming, but does begin the process for this,” a Petersburg spokesperson said.

Wilcox Lake closed in 1958 in an effort to prevent the lake’s recreational area from desegregation, the spokesperson said.

Wilcox Lake (PHOTO: City of Petersburg)

“When African-Americans within the City attempted to open Wilcox Lake to everyone, Petersburg’s all-white city council instead decided to shut down the entire lake,” the spokesperson said. “The fight went to federal court, but the City removed all funding for the Lake’s budget.”

“This action was long overdue, and I am proud that we were able to bring it back to the light and to do it as a unified Council,” Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham said.

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