Part 7: Civil Rights Act of 1964

Journey 2016

Watch and read Part 7 (5:58 minutes).

A faithful swim in a hotel pool shakes the halls of power in Washington DC as America’s Untold Journey continues…

We are seeking to make, this the oldest city in the United States… the most democratic city in the United States.

On June 18th, 1964, SCLC associate J.T Johnson hatched a plan at the Monson Motor Lodge. The Monson was the sight of frequent protests, hotel manager James Brock was all too willing to have protestors jailed.

The brief calm was shattered by another demonstration, this one at the Monson Motor Lodge.  The wildest in over a week.  As the St. Johns County Grand Jury prepared its long-awaited recommendations. A group of 70 white and negro demonstrators, including 15 Rabbis from New Jersey. Showed up at the motel to pray. They were met by the establishment’s owner, James Brock. Brock – “ you’re on private property and I’m ordering you to leave this place here. “

J.T’s plan was simple. He asked a friend-of-the-cause, Al Lingo to check in to the hotel. Because, Al was white, there were no problems at the front desk, and at the motel, two white men had registered as guests. Another group of Negros showed up and as you see where turned away.

Al then put on his swim trunks and jumped into the hotel pool. The rules allowed guests to invite friends in… so. J.T. Johnson and several other dove in as Al’s guests. While it’s safe to assume that the water was fine, James Brock, on the other hand, was not, with several dozen witnesses, Sheriff’s Deputies and an army of photographers on hand, and an enraged James Brock emerged and began pouring muriatic acid pool cleaner into the pool and on the swimmers.  This act of wanton hate immediately changed the game.

Our whole foreign policy and everything else can go to hell over this, yesterday in the swimming pool in St. Augustine, they jumped in and the police jumped in with their clothes on, they started pouring acid in the pool.

I saw that on television.     

The pictures were damning. The call for change became overwhelming, giving President Johnson the needed public support to help break the Senate filibuster and then a mere two weeks later after years of murder, broken bodies and blood on the streets, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law.

The purpose of this law is simple. It does not restrict the freedom of any American. It does say that there are those who are equal before God, shall now also be equal in the polling booths, in classrooms and the factories and in hotels and restaurants and movie theaters, and other places that provide service to the public.

And the city that began as a voyage from Spain, whose multi-racial citizens worked together for common cause, has almost journeyed full circle.

Look back and appreciate where you have come from. And extend your hand to try to help someone back there to come up to where you are, but never forget to look back and appreciate where you have come from.

James Clyburn said it best, America’s history is not on a linear plane, it’s on a pendulum and so we have to do what we have to do to keep it swinging in the direction that is works for most and all Americans

History is what it is, we can’t go back and change it, but we can learn from it and then move forward and make it a better world for everybody.

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