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On Thursday, Simone Manuel made history by becoming America's first black athlete to win an Olympic medal in swimming.

My colleague Dodai Stewart explained why Manuel's victory means so much to black Americans:

The fact that it’s 2016 and Simone Manuel is the first black American to medal in an individual swimming event is not surprising if you know anything about American history.

As writer Evette Dionne notes in a piece for The Revelist, public pools in the United States were not traditionally built in black neighborhoods, and public pools have a shameful history of racial segregation. In the 1950s and 1960s, public pools were turned into private pools just to keep black people out of them.

In a series of tweets, Brittany Packnett of Black Lives Matter group This Is The Movement explained why black Americans are claiming Manuel's victory for themselves, and why other Americans need to think twice before doing the same.


If white people are going to be claiming Simone Manuel's victory, they must do more to help make the rest of America more reflective of the country's history and racial makeup — a discrepancy captured by reporter Jesse Washington, who noted he was the only black reporter covering Manuel's press conference.



Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.