Until 1958, all park amenities, including the playground, were restricted to white residents. African American children and families were banned from entering the park. In a 1995 interview, the late author Tom Dent discusses his childhood experience during the late 1930s, when police kicked him and his friend out of City Park.
It's difficult to explain the adult world, the political situation or economic situation, to children who are not able to understand such foolishness or complexity, however you want to take it. You'd get general warnings --"Be careful, watch how you act, see how you behave" -- you know. "Be careful about how you behave on the streetcar or the bus," and, particularly, how you behave if police were approaching. Because too many blacks have been arrested, abused, beaten or worse just for no reason.
My closest friend, childhood friend, was Andrew Young. I remember once we were riding our bikes in City Park. Policeman came through and threw us out. We weren't even supposed to ride through the park. And I remember once I was driving by when I was young, and we were driving by City Park. My father was driving, and I asked him why we could not use the park. And he had a hard time trying to explain it. And in an interview in the daily paper--The Item or the Picayune--with him he mentioned that: "My son asked me, you know, why. I have a hard time trying to explain that." So, the little nuances of racial relations, where you had freedom to maneuver and where you didn't, were things you had to pick up from your friends and from your own experiences.