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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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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Surviving the Summer

Surviving the Summer

(p.115) 4 Surviving the Summer
Land Was Ours

Andrew W. Kahrl

University of North Carolina Press

African Americans’ exclusion from public beaches and swimming pools created a public health crisis in southern cities and towns, as each summer shockingly high numbers of black children drowned while playing in rivers, ditches, and other dangerous, unsupervised places. Focusing on the cities of New Orleans, Norfolk, Va., and Washington, DC, the chapter examines the consequences of Jim Crow along urban waterfronts on the lives of urban black families and communities, and chronicles the efforts of black civic leaders and organizations to force cities to provide black residents with safe and decent beaches, parks, and pools. Blacks’ demands for beaches of their own were often in conflict with the demands of a segregated real estate market and cities’ interests in promoting economic development. In response, cities invariably located “colored” public beaches along remote, polluted, and often dangerous sections of shore, reinforcing blacks’ inferior status and exacerbating the public health problems facing urban black communities. The chapter traces the development and spatalization of race along Washington’s Potomac waterfront, Norfolk’s Atlantic coastline, and New Orleans’s Lake Pontchartain in the first half of the 20th century, and shows how public “colored” beaches embodied the summertime experience of Jim Crow in the urban South.

Keywords:   Segregation, Public Beaches, Environmental Racism, Public Health, Urban South, New Orleans, La, Washington, DC, Norfolk, Va

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