By Marsha Dean Phelts
In the one entire heritage of Florida’s American seashore to this point, Marsha Dean Phelts attracts jointly own interviews, photographs, newspaper articles, memoirs, maps, and authentic records to reconstruct the nature and traditions of Amelia Island’s 200-acre African American neighborhood. In its heyday, while different shorelines grudgingly supplied in basic terms constrained entry, black tourists traveled as many as 1,000 miles down the east coast of the us and hundreds and hundreds of miles alongside the Gulf coast to a beachfront that welcomed their business.
Beginning in 1781 with the Samuel Harrison abode at the southern finish of Amelia Island, Phelts strains the start of the group to common Sherman’s specific box Order No. 15, during which the Union granted many former accomplice coastal holdings, together with Harrison’s estate, to former slaves. She then follows the lineage of the 1st African American households recognized to have settled within the sector to descendants last there this day, together with these of Zephaniah Kingsley and his spouse, Anna Jai.
Moving in the course of the Jim Crow period, Phelts describes the improvement of yankee Beach’s predecessors within the early 1900s. eventually, she presents the fullest account up to now of the lifestyles and contributions of Abraham Lincoln Lewis, the rich African American businessman who in 1935, as president of the Afro-American existence assurance corporation, initiated the acquisition and improvement of the tract of beach referred to as American seashore. From Lewis’s arrival at the scene, Phelts follows the community’s sustained improvement and development, highlighting landmarks just like the Ocean-Vu-Inn and the Blue Palace and concluding with a stirring plea for the upkeep of yankee seashore, that's at present threatened through encroaching development.
In a story jam-packed with firsthand bills and "old-timer" tales, Phelts, who has vacationed at American seashore when you consider that she was once 4 and now lives there, often adopts the fashion of an oral historian to color what's finally a private and intimate portrait of a group wealthy in historical past and culture.
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An American Beach for African Americans by Marsha Dean Phelts