It was 11th June 1964, and The Civil Rights Act, which guarantee equality among all men in the United States, would become law 20 days later, exactly on July 2nd, but despite this, there is still time for an absurd episode of racism. Martin Luther King Junior go at the Monson Motor Lodge Motel in Saint Augustine, Florida, intending to eat at the restaurant. The owner of the Motel “only for whites” Jimmy Brock, prevents access, and Luther King is arrested and taken to prison. From prison he writes to his friend Israel S.Dresner, a rabbi, asking him for a demonstration aimed at sensitizing public opinion. On June 18, a protest march is organized, in which the mother of the governor of Massachusetts also takes part, in which hundreds of people are arrested, including many rabbis.
During the protest the maximum tension is reached when a group of black activists with two rabbis enter in the pool of the Monson Motor Lodge Motel, fenced and reserved only for whites.
The owner takes a tank of muriatic acid and pours it into the pool:
“I’m only cleaning the pool!”
He will cry during the act. Immediately panic breaks out, but fear is (fortunately) unjustified, in fact the amount of acid is insignificant compared to the pool’s water volume, and an activist inside drinks water to prove that it is harmless.
A photographer, Horace Cort, documents all the events, including the arrival of the police and the arrest of the demonstrators. His photographs go around the world, and will be decisive during the Civil Rights Act vote a few days later.
Despite the absurdity of the episode, a man that pours acid in a pool with people inside, in the United States Jimmy Brock was recognized as the victim of the event because he exercised his right to reserve the hotel only for whites, and he died in 2007, at age 85.
Now, the motel and swimming pool were demolished in March 2003, despite five years of protests, thus eliminating one of the most important landmarks of the United States for the civil rights movement. A Hilton was built in its place.
Images from the web // Public demain