Original article found at savingplaces.org.
Atlantic Beach, nicknamed “The #Black Pearl” has quite the #African American history behind it. It is located in Horry County, which is pronounced (OH-ree) in the northeast of South Carolina. The beach was created as a result of segregationist laws, and blossomed into a thriving African-American vacation spot. It was the center spot for communities such as Cherry Grove, Crescent Beach and Windy Hill.
During the 1930s George W. Tyson, an entrepreneur wanted to create businesses along the oceanfront land in the county. He approached one of the White business men, R.V. Ward, about purchasing land. Ward agreed to sell Tyson 47 acres of his land for the sum of $2,000. Tyson soon built the Black Hawk Night Club, which was a very popular location for Black people in the area during this time. Because of the segregation laws that kept Blacks from going to White venues, the Black Hawk prospered quickly.
Since Tyson was doing so well, he began to talk to other Black entrepreneurs about opening businesses in the community. On March 3, 1936 Tyson had 10 purchases for plots on his land from other Black entrepreneurs. Those businesses began to thrive as well, and because of this Tyson decided to purchase the 49 acres of land adjacent to his tract. Tyson sold plots throughout the rest of the 1930s and up until 1943. He then sold the property to Atlantic Beach Company (ABC). The Atlantic Beach Company continued to support the African-American buyers and sold them land up until 1957. Many of the buyers of the land were Gullah-Geechee and various other African ethnicities who were actually doing quite well.
The tract along the Atlantic beach was filled with eateries, hotels, banks, and many little shops. People from all over began to visit and vacation in the area. No matter how far Black people moved, when they came back down south “The Black Pearl” was the place to visit. There was no doubt about the good time experience. Because of segregationist laws and practices, Atlantic Beach also became the host for many prominent R&B singers who performed at nearby Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately, the fun didn’t last long. Hurricane Hazel came through in 1954 and destroyed the wood buildings that were erected in the 1930s and 40s. Some entrepreneurs rebuilt, but by this time anti-segregation laws were being enforced during the 1960s and 70s. During this time people who used to vacation in the area began to branch out and visit other locations.
In 1966, as the surrounding communities of Little River, Conway, Longs, and Wampee began to gather under the North Myrtle Beach umbrella, Atlantic Beach decided to incorporate itself as an independent city. Under the new title Town of Atlantic Beach, the Black Pearl was determined to revitalize its economic status and preserve its history.
read original article at: https://savingplaces.org/stories/atlantic-beach-historic-african-american-enclave-in-south-carolina#.VjkTDjZdGM8