Kessing Pool is the university's outdoor swimming pool. It was originally built for use by navy cadets attending the pre-flight school at UNC, one of five U.S. Navy pre-flight schools established across the country during World War II. The pool is named for Oliver Owen Kessing, who was the first commanding officer of the campus pre-flight school. The swimming pools on campus were among many spaces on campus that remained segregated when the first African American students enrolled in the early 1950s.
Floyd McKissick, one of the first African American students to attend UNC when he entered the law school in 1951, remembered the swimming pools in an oral history interview: "There were some incidents of some of the kids went to the swimming pool to swim and they wouldn't let them in, and I told them this pool was going to get integrated today, and I just went on and jumped into the pool. After I jumped into the pool, I walked on out and nobody said anything to me and I said nothing to anybody else. I said, It's integrated now.'"