November 29, 2022

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

It’s been practically 60 a long time given that the 1964 Civil Legal rights Act was passed and Hen Bone Beach front transitioned from a racially segregated seashore into a community family vacation desired destination 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 National Conference will fork out tribute to Hen Bone Seaside by “recreating” the landmark, organizers told NJ Advance Media.

“What we’ll do is have a private event, only accessible to folks who are registered for the convention. We will have the comprehensive beach with leisure, jazz, a dwell DJ and remarks from dignitaries,” mentioned Yolanda Melville, vice president of the Atlantic Metropolis NAACP who is set to communicate at the event.

Much more than 2,500 men and women are invited to the history-earning celebration, which will also contain roped off-entrances, dwell displays, screens showcasing the beach’s record and fashion to honor Black tradition, explained Henrietta Shelton, founder of the Rooster Bone Seashore Historic Basis. Up coming week’s “recreation” of the seashore will consist of actors taking part in Sammy Davis, Jr. and other stars known to have frequented the town.

What was Chicken Bone Beach?

Atlantic Metropolis lodge owners in 1928 informed metropolis officials that thanks to the booming Black community complaints from white patrons had been growing.

“The issue of colored bathers was taken up,” an executive from the Ambassador Lodge wrote a general public formal, in accordance to historical archives at the Atlantic City Free of charge Community Library. “The Georgia Avenue aspect of the Conference Hall would be a logical put for colored bath homes.”

This inspite of Black and white communities owning shared the beach front for approximately 80 many years, because the resort town was started when railroads last but not least met at the Shore from the north and west.

Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City

Hen Bone Seaside, Atlantic Town

Chicken Bone Beach plaque

This plaque commemorates an African-American beach front for the duration of a segregation era in Atlantic Town.

Jim Crow racial segregation rules were in no way officially enacted in Atlantic City. Having said that, neighborhood leaders sought “diplomatic measures,” in accordance to a 1931 letter to an formal in San Diego, California, who experienced arrived at out for guidance. The letter is involved in historic archives at the Atlantic Metropolis Totally free General public Library.

“The leading customers of our group conferred with leaders of the negro race and advised them it was for the ideal interest of absolutely everyone worried that the negroes patronize the beach front at which the coloured lifeguards have been positioned,” the letter said. “…[T]he phrase appeared to unfold among them … the issue for them to do would be to patronize the aforesaid seashore … No potent-arm methods have been made use of … and the make a difference was amicably modified by the use of diplomatic solutions.”

The north aspect of town, which was presently property to thousands of Black folks who worked in resorts and other Atlantic City businesses, grew to become the key place for Black individuals to “patronize” Atlantic City, historians reported.

An spot stretching north from Missouri Avenue, oceanfront house owned by the town and close to the Convention Corridor, would be the spot the place “colored” lifeguards would be stationed. Motels, dining establishments and bars promptly sprung up to serve Black folks and an amusement district revolving all-around Club Harlem drew top Black entertainers, like Sammy Davis, Jr., Louis Armstrong, Depend Basie and Duke Ellington.

Nonetheless, most of the guests of Rooster Bone Seaside were being people on working day trips who packed lunches and snacks for the day — together with fried rooster, nearby historians beforehand informed NJ Progress Media.

The title sooner or later stuck.

“They couldn’t go into places to eat, so when individuals were being coming from out of city and they did not know in which they could go or what segment they’d be put in at a restaurant, they brought their own food stuff,” said Shelton, noting that rooster was a typical option evidenced by bones typically plucked from the sand when beaches cleared.

Shelton, who launched the Rooster Bone Seaside Historical Foundation in the 1990s, mentioned some took offense with the title. But eventually people today built peace with it and utilized it to rejoice Black lifestyle and “make lemonade out of lemons,” she mentioned.

A wood-framed plaque close to the seashore now reads: “This beach front was specified the exclusively African American portion of the beach front in the segregation period. The beach captivated popular Black entertainers, neighborhood people and tourist … With the passage of the 1964 Civil Legal rights Act, all Atlantic Metropolis beaches were being open up to every person.”

Shelton’s foundation also sponsors a sequence of summertime jazz concert events on Rooster Bone Beach and year-spherical programs for youths. She explained that in addition to supplying attendees a glimpse into the beach’s past, she is seeking ahead to hosting jazz musicians, together with the Nat Adderley Jr. Quartet.

“We’re extremely honored to be the corporation to deliver this sort of knowledge at the conference,” she reported.

Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City

The legacy of Chicken Bone Seaside and segregated Atlantic City stay on by the attempts of community historians.

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Steven Rodas may perhaps be reached at [email protected]. Abide by him on Twitter @stevenrodasnj. Bill Duhart could be arrived at at [email protected].