The “acid of racism” in the water: St. Augustine lessons

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A long time hotel owner James “Jimmy” Brock died in 2007. His funeral took place in St. Augustine, Florida. Friends remember him as a respected businessman and a good investor at St. Augustine tourism. Here is his photo. “Jimmy” is pouring muriatic acid into the pool of his hotel while black people are swimming in it.

“Jimmy” is pouring muriatic acid into pool. (photo: wikipedia)
“Jimmy” is pouring muriatic acid into pool. (photo: wikipedia)

This happened in 1964. St. Augustine Movement was a key stage in the civic rights movement organized by black people. In Civil Rights library of St. Augustine, we can read:

“Brock refused to allow Martin Luther King, Jr. to dine at his segregated motel restaurant, though he told King that he would allow him inside if circumstances were different. The conversation between the two was polite and caught on camera, but this encounter would lead to King being arrested for trespassing and his only arrest in Florida,” –Civil Rights library of St. Augustine

Martin Luther King, Jr. being denied entry to the whites only Monson Motor Lodge restaurant by owner Jimmy Brock. (photo: wikipedia)
Martin Luther King, Jr. being denied entry to the whites only Monson Motor Lodge restaurant by owner Jimmy Brock. (photo: wikipedia)

Life went on; and the years passed after the “acid rain” in the hotel pool – 50 years! These years turned into a big textbook to study and to understand the civic rights. People started to realize their primary rights and needs: to swim and to eat in places open to the public. Did it work? I think, yes, because those who did not let them to do so could feel the breaths of thousands on their back. My opinion is that the American society is always put on “alarm” not to let another Augustine Movement.

I ask to myself: Why does this “alarm” work? Because (and this is an another advantage of this society) the transparency level in the society is high. Every time the “acid of racism” is poured into the water, a lot of people feel that acid on their skin even if they are very far from the pool. This is what the 50th anniversary of St. Augustine Movement teaches us.

Edited by Emily Nichols, Writer, Bilingual Brand Consultant and Creative Leader

About Armen Sargsyan

Armen Sargsyan from Armenia is a television and film producer at the Media Initiatives Center, an organization promoting the dissemination of free and independent information in Armenia. Previously, Sargsyan hosted and produced TV shows and investigations on socioeconomic issues, as well as a weekly special series about Armenian elections that aired from 1996-2014. He managed international media projects about conflicts in South Caucasus, Armenia-Turkey rapprochement, cross-border dialogue films on war, social conflicts and cohesion. Sargsyan holds a State Diploma of Linguistics and Pedagogy and an Excellency Certificate of International Broadcast Journalism. During his Humphrey year, he wants to learn more about digital journalism, data visualization, media literacy and communication technologies.

View all posts by Armen Sargsyan →

2 Comments on “The “acid of racism” in the water: St. Augustine lessons”

  1. Armen,

    You bring such an important part of history to life. The 50th anniversary of the horrid event ultimately was a part of the spark that helped the civil rights movement succeed in our country. We learned to fight the fire with justice but still, to this day, we have a long way to go.

    While we are much more transparent in our media, we tend to focus on these cases being about race and not just violence. Violence, no matter the cause, should be eradicated however I believe that the more people decide to talk about the social implications of violence, the more we deviate from wrong just being wrong. We make excuses for why people act the way they do, but ultimately these heated debates only stir a pot of hate. Perhaps we should talk about race issues being just race issues but for now, I remain on the border of this topic.

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