Remembering a Civil Rights Swim-In: A Dark Moment in St. Augustine

Monson Motor Lodge

In preparation for next weekend’s summer symposium, we’ve been reading up on sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement. Though these protests—along with a host of other “-ins,” including swim-ins, read-ins and pray-ins— were characterized by nonviolent resistance, they weren’t always met on those same terms. Case in point: the above picture from 1964 St. Augustine, Florida. A swim-in at the Monson Motor Lodge was disrupted when hotel owner James Brock poured acid into the pool.

I was born and raised in St. Augustine, and this photo isn’t new to me. It has always given chills, serving as a constant reminder of the importance of documentary work. It’s up to us to document the changes in our world and to work towards a more inclusive future.

This morning NPR featured a clip of a wonderful StoryCorps interview with J.T. Johnson and Al Lingo, two protestors who had been at the Monson Motor Lodge that day. I urge you to take the 2 minutes and 47 seconds to listen.