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Monday, August 27, 2012

Labor Day: Summer's Last Hurrah

Autumn does not start officially until September 22nd. Traditionally, families and friends gather for one last big barbeque, family reunion, or day on the beach over the Labor Day weekend, and this signifies the end of summer. It was not that long ago, that a day at the beach for African Americans was as fraught as the back of the bus, the lunch counter, the road trip that required so much planning because so few hospitality facilities were available.

Idlewild Resort, Michigan
Starting in the 1890's, one solution to the "beach problem" was the development of resorts for African American families and the creation of public beaches by successful black entrepreneurs. As always, the poor had to just make do in most places. But for those of means or who were able to plan and make the trip, these resorts and beaches were major holiday destinations. Many of these resorts began to fall on hard times as desegregation offered black families more choices in where vacations could be taken. But until then, they were very successful. Watch a video here called A Place of Our Own: Black Resorts and the African American.

American Beach, Florida
There were at least thirteen beaches and resorts of note. These were Idlewild on the shores of Lake Michigan; Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts; Highland Beach, Maryland; American Beach, Florida; Pacific Beach Club, Los Angeles, California; Gulfside Assembly, Waveland, Mississippi; Freeman Beach, Wilmington, North Carolina; Sag Harbor, New York; Bruce's Beach, near Los Angeles, California; Buckroe Beach, Bay Shore, and Mark Haven, Virginia (click here for information on the previous six listings); and lastly, Lincoln Hills Country Club with the famous Winks Lodge in Colorado.

Highland Beach, Maryland
Each of these resorts has a unique history and starting point. Idlewild was started by two white couples from Chicago who saw a need and a business opportunity. Highland Beach was started by descendents of Frederick Douglass. American Beach was founded by Florida’s "first black millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, and his Afro-American Life Insurance Company". Famous entertainers, business people, intellectuals, and members of the working class all spent time at these resorts. The links throughout this post contain a wealth of information.


8 comments:

  1. Great place to spend a vacation in any given time of the year. The place has good climate and storms rarely hit it. The establishments nearby are also a must visit.

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  2. Public resorts should be monitored more. Many are unclean and could cause skin diseases. People prefers public resorts because its cheap but it must not translate to bad experience.

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  3. Good summer venues such as this one will surely provide good services and dishes of course. Most of the time, one can experience a fun-filled activities in here as well.

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  4. Well, as early as now, I'm already booking a hotel beach accommodation for the summer. This is to avoid last year's misfortunes from happening again wherein we couldn't find a decent resort because most of the rooms were already fully booked.

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  5. Every summer I make sure to visit the nearby beach in my place. My office is not that far either to the beach so yeah, whenever I got a time I make sure to make the best time out of it.

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  6. Ah, the beach. I like the beach resort in LA, they had a really great set of outdoor chairs for lounging in the sun. And the beds were heavenly soft.

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  7. Yes, I definitely agree with what George said, it’s a good place to spend a vacation in this place. The beach is very inviting and so is the hotel, what I like about our stay in there when we stayed in Florida Heritage hotel, the place was well designed and very comfortable to stay at.

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  8. This is a good one!
    Thank you for sharing.

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