March 25, 2023


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

It’s been virtually 60 several years due to the fact the 1964 Civil Legal rights Act was passed and Chicken Bone Seaside transitioned from a racially segregated beach front into a general public vacation desired destination at the Jersey Shore.

But the legacy of the internet site, which was bustling in a segregated Jim Crow-period Atlantic City, lives on.

On July 20, the 113th NAACP Countrywide Conference will fork out tribute to Chicken Bone Beach front by “recreating” the landmark, organizers told NJ Progress Media.

“What we’ll do is have a private celebration, only offered to individuals who are registered for the convention. We will have the comprehensive beach front with entertainment, jazz, a live DJ and remarks from dignitaries,” said Yolanda Melville, vice president of the Atlantic City NAACP who is set to speak at the event.

More than 2,500 people today are invited to the history-building function, which will also involve roped off-entrances, dwell displays, screens showcasing the beach’s record and fashion to honor Black tradition, said Henrietta Shelton, founder of the Hen Bone Beach Historic Foundation. Next week’s “recreation” of the beach front will contain actors participating in Sammy Davis, Jr. and other stars known to have frequented the metropolis.

What was Hen Bone Seaside?

Atlantic Metropolis lodge proprietors in 1928 explained to city officials that thanks to the booming Black neighborhood grievances from white patrons were growing.

“The make a difference of colored bathers was taken up,” an government from the Ambassador Hotel wrote a general public formal, in accordance to historic archives at the Atlantic Metropolis Cost-free Community Library. “The Ga Avenue facet of the Conference Hall would be a rational put for coloured bathtub homes.”

This irrespective of Black and white communities owning shared the seaside for nearly 80 a long time, considering that the vacation resort city was launched when railroads at last satisfied at the Shore from the north and west.

Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City

Hen Bone Beach front, Atlantic Metropolis

Chicken Bone Beach plaque

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

Jim Crow racial segregation legal guidelines have been never officially enacted in Atlantic Town. On the other hand, neighborhood leaders sought “diplomatic measures,” in accordance to a 1931 letter to an official in San Diego, California, who had reached out for suggestions. The letter is integrated in historic archives at the Atlantic City Totally free Public Library.

“The top members of our group conferred with leaders of the negro race and recommended them it was for the best desire of absolutely everyone concerned that the negroes patronize the seashore at which the coloured lifeguards were being put,” the letter said. “…[T]he word appeared to spread amid them … the point for them to do would be to patronize the aforesaid seaside … No powerful-arm solutions were utilised … and the issue was amicably adjusted by the use of diplomatic approaches.”

The north aspect of town, which was presently residence to thousands of Black people today who labored in motels and other Atlantic City corporations, grew to become the primary area for Black persons to “patronize” Atlantic Town, historians mentioned.

An location stretching north from Missouri Avenue, oceanfront home owned by the city and around the Convention Corridor, would be the region in which “colored” lifeguards would be stationed. Hotels, dining establishments and bars promptly sprung up to provide Black people today and an enjoyment district revolving about Club Harlem drew prime Black entertainers, together with Sammy Davis, Jr., Louis Armstrong, Depend Basie and Duke Ellington.

However, most of the site visitors of Hen Bone Beach front ended up households on day outings who packed lunches and treats for the day — which includes fried hen, nearby historians previously told NJ Advance Media.

The title at some point trapped.

“They could not go into places to eat, so when people have been coming from out of town and they didn’t know the place they could go or what segment they’d be set in at a cafe, they introduced their individual food,” mentioned Shelton, noting that rooster was a widespread decision evidenced by bones usually plucked from the sand when beach locations cleared.

Shelton, who established the Rooster Bone Beach Historic Basis in the 1990s, stated some took offense with the identify. But ultim
ately people built peace with it and utilized it to celebrate Black tradition and “make lemonade out of lemons,” she claimed.

A wooden-framed plaque close to the beach front now reads: “This seaside was specified the completely African American area of the seashore in the segregation period. The beach front captivated well-liked Black entertainers, community residents and vacationer … With the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, all Atlantic Town beach locations ended up open to anyone.”

Shelton’s basis also sponsors a collection of summer jazz concerts on Rooster Bone Beach and 12 months-spherical packages for youths. She said that in addition to providing attendees a glimpse into the beach’s previous, she is hunting ahead to web hosting jazz musicians, like the Nat Adderley Jr. Quartet.

“We’re very honored to be the group to provide this type of expertise at the conference,” she explained.

Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City

The legacy of Hen Bone Beach front and segregated Atlantic Town reside on by way of the efforts of neighborhood historians.

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Steven Rodas could be arrived at at [email protected]. Comply with him on Twitter @stevenrodasnj. Bill Duhart may well be reached at [email protected].