After the abolition of slavery, racial segregation existed all over America and as a result, the concept of the colour line emerged. The colour line was essentially a policy which divided the whites and the blacks. Nineteen-year-old David Isom stood up against this racist concept and broke the colour line in a Florida pool.
Read about the events which took place.
1) Segregation prevailed throughout the public beaches in Florida and as a result, the African-Americans did not have any decent bathing facility.
2) Close to the Spa beach, the Spa pool opened in 1955. However, both were reserved for the whites only.
3) As the spa beach was reserved for the whites, the African Americans had to use the facility on Tampa Bay. It was called the ‘South Mole’, however, the beach was littered with trash and the bathing facility was small.
4) As a result, that same year, 6 African Americans filed a suit against the city government to end segregation at downtown bathing sites. On April 6, 1957, the city ruled in their favour. However, the swimming facilities were open in theory but in practice, they still remained closed for the blacks.
5) On June 8, 1958, David Isom, a nineteen-year-old broke the colour line and swam in the pool.
6) David Isom, a graduate of Gibbs High School said, “I feel that it’s not a privilege, just a right”.
7) Additionally, the cashier who sold him a thirty-five cent ticket said that she was ordered to treat him like “any other citizen”.
8) When Isom entered the establishment, about 45 white people were already present at the pool. He said that they paid little attention to him and treated him politely.
9) Tommy Chinnis, the lifeguard at duty, said that he “was like everyone else”.
10) However, twenty minutes into his departure, John Gough, the pool’s manager put a ‘closed’ sign on the entrance. Gough said that he was acting on the orders of Ross Windom, the city manager.
11) Windom told him to close the pool because “a n**** had used the facilities”.
12) Thereafter the Spa pool and the Spa beach were closed.
13) However, the city council reopened the facilities shortly and in 1959, the new city manager George K. Armes declared that they are to be kept open unless there is trouble.
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