With offices on the campus of Indiana University South Bend, and at the Natatorium building in South Bend, the CRHC is dedicated to the preservation of the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the history of race and ethnic relations in the Michiana area, and seeks to provide education, research, and forums, while examining human rights principals and challenges for future generations.
The Civil Rights Heritage Center (CRHC) was established on the campus of Indiana University South Bend as a result of student interest and faculty support as a center for the study and documentation of civil rights history. Through community involvement, students, faculty, and community members joined forces to push for the restoration of a public building known for its policy of racial discrimination against African Americans as a center for the study of civil rights.
Located within the West Washington National Historic Register District, the Engman Natatorium opened in 1922 as a public swimming pool that limited use to whites and was not fully integrated until 1950. The Natatorium closed in 1978, and sat for decades in a state of disrepair. Thanks to the efforts of students, and faculty from Indiana University South Bend, the City of South Bend, the South Bend Heritage Foundation, and the Indiana University Foundation, the building underwent extensive renovations and now functions as the community offices of the Civil Rights Heritage Center.
Uniquely situated to engage in scholarly inquiry, student research, and community education, the CRHC as both a campus and community based center is dedicated to embracing the Indiana University mission of creating “a dynamic partnerships with the state and local communities in economic, social, and cultural development and to offer leadership in creative solutions for 21st century problems.”