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


It’s been just about 60 years considering the fact that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was handed and Rooster Bone Beach transitioned from a racially segregated beach front into a community family vacation desired destination at the Jersey Shore.

But the legacy of the site, which was bustling in a segregated Jim Crow-period Atlantic Metropolis, life on.

On July 20, the 113th NAACP National Convention will pay tribute to Chicken Bone Beach front by “recreating” the landmark, organizers told NJ Progress Media.

“What we’ll do is have a personal celebration, only offered to persons who are registered for the conference. We will have the complete seashore with leisure, jazz, a live DJ and remarks from dignitaries,” mentioned Yolanda Melville, vice president of the Atlantic Metropolis NAACP who is set to converse at the function.

Additional than 2,500 persons are invited to the history-creating event, which will also contain roped off-entrances, are living exhibits, screens showcasing the beach’s heritage and manner to honor Black tradition, claimed Henrietta Shelton, founder of the Rooster Bone Beach Historic Foundation. Next week’s “recreation” of the seaside will include things like actors participating in Sammy Davis, Jr. and other stars regarded to have frequented the town.

What was Rooster Bone Beach?

Atlantic City hotel homeowners in 1928 advised town officials that owing to the booming Black group problems from white patrons were raising.

“The subject of coloured bathers was taken up,” an government from the Ambassador Lodge wrote a general public official, in accordance to historical archives at the Atlantic City Cost-free Public Library. “The Georgia Avenue facet of the Convention Hall would be a rational put for coloured bathtub properties.”

This even with Black and white communities having shared the seashore for virtually 80 many years, given that the resort metropolis was started when railroads eventually fulfilled at the Shore from the north and west.

Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City

Hen Bone Seashore, Atlantic City

Chicken Bone Beach plaque

This plaque commemorates an African-American beach in the course of a segregation era in Atlantic Metropolis.

Jim Crow racial segregation regulations were hardly ever officially enacted in Atlantic Metropolis. Nonetheless, nearby leaders sought “diplomatic measures,” in accordance to a 1931 letter to an formal in San Diego, California, who had achieved out for guidance. The letter is incorporated in historical archives at the Atlantic Town No cost Public Library.

“The leading associates of our local community conferred with leaders of the negro race and recommended them it was for the greatest desire of absolutely everyone concerned that the negroes patronize the beach at which the coloured lifeguards were being placed,” the letter stated. “…[T]he term appeared to distribute amid them … the point for them to do would be to patronize the aforesaid seashore … No robust-arm approaches have been utilized … and the make any difference was amicably altered by the use of diplomatic strategies.”

The north facet of city, which was by now residence to hundreds of Black persons who worked in hotels and other Atlantic City companies, turned the primary spot for Black persons to “patronize” Atlantic Town, historians mentioned.

An space stretching north from Missouri Avenue, oceanfront house owned by the metropolis and around the Conference Corridor, would be the area wherever “colored” lifeguards would be stationed. Hotels, places to eat and bars promptly sprung up to provide Black folks and an leisure district revolving all over Club Harlem drew best Black entertainers, like Sammy Davis, Jr., Louis Armstrong, Rely Basie and Duke Ellington.

Nevertheless, most of the guests of Chicken Bone Seaside have been people on working day visits who packed lunches and treats for the working day — such as fried hen, local historians previously explained to NJ Progress Media.

The title at some point caught.

“They couldn’t go into eating places, so when individuals have been coming from out of city and they didn’t know where by they could go or what part they’d be set in at a cafe, they introduced their have food,” reported Shelton, noting that chicken was a typical preference evidenced by bones frequently plucked from the sand when shorelines cleared.

Shelton, who started the Hen Bone Beach Historic Foundation in the 1990s, reported some took offense with the title. But eventually men and women manufactured peace with it and applied it to rejoice Black cu
lture and “make lemonade out of lemons,” she stated.

A wooden-framed plaque near the beach front now reads: “This beach was specified the completely African American segment of the beach in the segregation period. The beach attracted common Black entertainers, nearby residents and vacationer … With the passage of the 1964 Civil Legal rights Act, all Atlantic Town beaches have been open to anyone.”

Shelton’s foundation also sponsors a collection of summer season jazz live shows on Rooster Bone Seashore and 12 months-spherical systems for youths. She mentioned that in addition to offering attendees a glimpse into the beach’s past, she is on the lookout ahead to web hosting jazz musicians, including the Nat Adderley Jr. Quartet.

“We’re incredibly honored to be the business to supply this variety of practical experience at the conference,” she mentioned.

Chicken Bone Beach, Atlantic City

The legacy of Hen Bone Beach front and segregated Atlantic City reside on by way of the initiatives of regional historians.

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Steven Rodas may possibly be attained at Adhere to him on Twitter @stevenrodasnj. Bill Duhart could be arrived at at


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