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Land Was OursHow Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South$
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Andrew W. Kahrl

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469628721

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469628721.001.0001

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Building Black Privatopias

Building Black Privatopias

(p.86) 3 Building Black Privatopias
Land Was Ours

Andrew W. Kahrl

University of North Carolina Press

As exclusive resorts adopted Jim Crow policies in the late 19th century, elite African Americans worked to build summer vacation destinations of their own. The chapter tells the story of Highland Beach, Maryland, one of the earliest and most famous black vacation towns in America. It shows how the African American families who owned summer cottages there worked to create an exclusive summer world that befit their tastes, sensibilities, and desire for privacy. They did so by adopting many of the same exclusionary practices used by segregated white residential communities, in this case to prevent other African Americans from gaining access. Highland Beach’s efforts to fashion its own exclusive summer culture and distance itself from other African Americans subjected the town to searing attacks from prominent black figures and organizations. The chapter details the town’s growth and unpacks the politics of race and class in this and other exclusive black summer havens from the 1920s through the 1950s. It shows how the growth of a black middle class and the rising incomes of black professionals in the post-World War II era stimulated demand for second-home ownership and led to the proliferation of black residential subdivisions along Maryland’s Western Shore.

Keywords:   Class, Black Towns, Maryland Western Shore, Chesapeake Bay, Homeowners’ Associations

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