You probably have heard the numerous of stories by now about the history and current state of the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina. But a recent article published by Buzzfeed on Gulfside Assembly shed a bit more knowledge on a historically African-American beach in Waveland, Mississippi. The location used to be a spot where #Black Americans could retreat with their friends and family and enjoy the beautiful waters. The location was the only place during this time that African-Americans were allowed to go.
A light-skinned Black man, Methodist Bishop Robert Elijah Jones, who had not been questioned by local landowners when he purchased the former plantation of President Andrew Jackson in 1921, operated and owned the estate as a retreat in the shadows of Jim Crow. People visiting the beach would have to walk a mile-and-a-half through the woods and obey strict rules and guidelines while on the property. It was treacherous, swampy ground, with thick underbrush, tangled vines, and more than a few snakes. The road that was traveled to get to the beach was not for Black people. If you made a mistake and took the road for White people, anything could happen.
However, once the trip was made safely to the beach, it was a visit well worth the travel. Once the guests arrive they were met with certain restrictions but it was only to keep them safe and able to continue being able to enjoy the beach area. Despite the resort was a huge success, and made Gulfside a local legend and it would be a center later for civil rights activities. The beach was one of those places where Black people could go and they didn’t have to worry about other people bothering them. Black people, especially black children rarely felt safe during the Jim Crow South era. Since the #devastation of Katrina, maintaining the legacy of the area has proven to be a big challenge.
“While the resort’s popularity declined over time, plans were implemented right before Katrina to open a hotel and expand the site. According to Allison Anderson, a partner at Unabridged Architecture, her firm started working on a master plan for the site in 2000. An expanded site and hotel opened on August 13, 2005, weeks before the hurricane wiped out the entire retreat. Efforts to rebuild and preserve Gulfside Assembly have since faced many of the common difficulties of other post-Katrina recovery efforts, including the recession and Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.” (Sisson, 2015) Ten years later, the rubble from Katrina is cleared, however, the ghosts of Katrina still loom over a large part of the Gulfside.