March 3, 2024


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Atlantic City’s Chicken Bone Beach to be ‘recreated’ at NAACP national convention. What was it?

It’s been just about 60 several years given that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was handed and Rooster Bone Seaside transitioned from a racially segregated beach into a public vacation location at the Jersey Shore.

But the legacy of the web-site, which was bustling in a segregated Jim Crow-era Atlantic Metropolis, lives on.

On July 20, the 113th NAACP Nationwide Convention will pay out tribute to Rooster Bone Seaside by “recreating” the landmark, organizers informed NJ Progress Media.

“What we’ll do is have a private celebration, only out there to individuals who are registered for the conference. We will have the total beach front with amusement, jazz, a stay DJ and remarks from dignitaries,” mentioned Yolanda Melville, vice president of the Atlantic Metropolis NAACP who is set to converse at the event.

A lot more than 2,500 individuals are invited to the background-building party, which will also contain roped off-entrances, dwell exhibits, screens showcasing the beach’s background and fashion to honor Black lifestyle, reported Henrietta Shelton, founder of the Rooster Bone Beach front Historical Basis. Upcoming week’s “recreation” of the seashore will involve actors participating in Sammy Davis, Jr. and other stars recognized to have frequented the metropolis.

What was Rooster Bone Seaside?

Atlantic City lodge owners in 1928 instructed city officers that due to the booming Black community grievances from white patrons were escalating.

“The subject of coloured bathers was taken up,” an govt from the Ambassador Hotel wrote a general public official, in accordance to historical archives at the Atlantic Town Cost-free Community Library. “The Georgia Avenue facet of the Convention Hall would be a logical place for coloured bathtub properties.”

This regardless of Black and white communities obtaining shared the beach for just about 80 years, considering that the resort city was launched when railroads at last met at the Shore from the north and west.

Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City

Rooster Bone Beach, Atlantic City

Chicken Bone Beach plaque

This plaque commemorates an African-American beach front throughout a segregation period in Atlantic Town.

Jim Crow racial segregation regulations ended up under no circumstances formally enacted in Atlantic Metropolis. Having said that, regional leaders sought “diplomatic steps,” in accordance to a 1931 letter to an official in San Diego, California, who experienced attained out for tips. The letter is provided in historical archives at the Atlantic Town Free of charge Community Library.

“The leading users of our neighborhood conferred with leaders of the negro race and encouraged them it was for the best curiosity of anyone anxious that the negroes patronize the seashore at which the colored lifeguards were being positioned,” the letter said. “…[T]he word appeared to unfold among the them … the point for them to do would be to patronize the aforesaid beach front … No powerful-arm procedures were being applied … and the make a difference was amicably modified by the use of diplomatic strategies.”

The north aspect of city, which was now residence to thousands of Black people who labored in lodges and other Atlantic Town organizations, became the primary space for Black men and women to “patronize” Atlantic Metropolis, historians explained.

An location stretching north from Missouri Avenue, oceanfront residence owned by the city and in the vicinity of the Conference Hall, would be the location exactly where “colored” lifeguards would be stationed. Hotels, dining establishments and bars immediately sprung up to serve Black folks and an amusement district revolving close to Club Harlem drew top rated Black entertainers, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Louis Armstrong, Rely Basie and Duke Ellington.

Still, most of the readers of Chicken Bone Seaside ended up households on day outings who packed lunches and treats for the working day — together with fried chicken, local historians beforehand informed NJ Advance Media.

The name ultimately stuck.

“They could not go into places to eat, so when persons have been coming from out of town and they didn’t know the place they could go or what section they’d be place in at a restaurant, they brought their possess food stuff,” stated Shelton, noting that rooster was a typical alternative evidenced by bones typically plucked from the sand when beaches cleared.

Shelton, who started the Hen Bone Seaside Historical Basis in the 1990s, reported some took offense with the name. But ultimately folks built peace with it and utilised it to rejoice Black lifestyle and “make lemonade out of lemons,” she stated.

A wooden-framed plaque in the vicinity of the seaside now reads: “This seashore was selected the completely African American section of the seaside in the segregation period. The seaside attracted popular Black entertainers, area people and tourist … With the passage of the 1964 Civil Legal rights Act, all Atlantic Town seashores ended up open up to everybody.”

Shelton’s foundation also sponsors a sequence of summer jazz live shows on Hen Bone Seaside and yr-spherical courses for youths. She stated that in addition to giving attendees a glimpse into the beach’s earlier, she is looking forward to web hosting jazz musicians, such as the Nat Adderley Jr. Quartet.

“We’re quite honored to be the group to deliver this kind of knowledge at the conference,” she stated.

Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City

The legacy of Chicken Bone Beach and segregated Atlantic City dwell on through the initiatives of regional historians.

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Steven Rodas may possibly be attained at [email protected]. Adhere to him on Twitter @stevenrodasnj. Bill Duhart may possibly be attained at [email protected].