The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South

By Arnold, Stanley | The Historian, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South


Arnold, Stanley, The Historian


The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South. By Andrew W. Kahrl. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012. Pp. ix, 376. $39.95.)

While most studies of the twentieth century's "long civil rights movement" examine developments in rural and urban settings, the author of this study explores new terrain in this fascinating work. In this elegantly written yet accessible book, Andrew W. Kahrl explores how African Americans established beachside resort communities from the Chesapeake Bay to New Orleans. He traces the development of these "privatopias" into real and imagined sites of resistance. These communities provided African Americans with some form of respite, albeit temporary, from unrelenting racism. Although these resorts were treasured by African American visitors, Kahrl vividly recounts that both legal and violent opposition from local whites hindered the growth and expansion of these communities.

Kahrl introduces readers to disc jockeys, security guards, visitors, and entrepreneurs who contributed to the establishment and operation of these seaside refuges. In addition to serving black recreational needs, these resorts were increasingly viewed as being crucial to public safety. …

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