Lecture and book signing
Assistant Professor Department of History, Carter G. Woodson Institute
Castles Made of Sand:
The Rise and Demise of African American Beaches in the Mid-Atlantic South
In the 1950s the coasts and waterways of Virginia and Maryland were home to scores of African American beach resorts, amusement parks, country clubs, and summer vacation communities. Servicing the leisure and recreational needs of a segregated black public and spawning a host of businesses and enterprises, African American-owned coastal properties played an important, if often overlooked, role in shaping black culture and economic life under Jim Crow. And yet, by the 1970s, most of these resorts were gone and much of the land was being lost to land speculators and real estate developers. Award-winning historian Andrew W. Kahrl will reveal the hidden history of black beaches in the segregated South and tell the remarkable story of how African American families, businessmen and women, and investors acquired land along the Chesapeake and Atlantic and helped to create a vibrant black leisure economy during the first half of the twentieth century. He will recount their struggles to keep these communities intact and businesses afloat following desegregation. Finally, Kahrl will discuss how the meteoric rise of coastal real estate values made black landowners in these areas the victims of a variety of predatory and exploitative schemes that resulted in the loss of their land and the chance to share in the region’s prosperity. It is a story, he will argue, that offers important lessons for understanding the development and persistence of the racial wealth gap in America today.
After lecture Dr. Kahrl will sign copies of his book The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South (2012)
This event is free and open to the public. Cost of book is $40, members receive 10% discount.