Exactly a hundred years after the Confederacy fell, a neighborhood swimming pool in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County said a black family couldn’t join. And not long after that, a Fairfax County judge said that was the correct call. Then the Virginia Supreme Court refused to hear the case, twice, on the most technical of technicalities.
But a white man named Paul E. Sullivan kept fighting. He was the landlord for the rejected family, whose patriarch was a Ph.D. economist, and even though they moved away, Sullivan kept fighting. And four years later, in 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court said he was right and ordered the Little Hunting Park pool association, in the Bucknell Manor section of the Alexandria area, to desegregate. It was an important civil rights case, Sullivan v. Little Hunting Park Inc., if not a shining moment in Northern Virginia racial history.
Paul E. Sullivan, 87, died March 14 at his home in the Alexandria area. This fine obituary by The Post’s Emma Brown makes him seem like a heck of a guy [he had eight kids, so that’s something] and tells this important chapter of our heritage.