Q&A: Historian Andrew Kahrl On The Segregation History Of Lincoln Beach And Plans To Reopen ItHistorians in the News
tags: Jim Crow, segregation, African American history, New Orleans
Mayor LaToya Cantrell is looking into re-opening Lincoln Beach, the long-shuttered African American beach in New Orleans East.
New Orleans Public Radio talked about it with historian Andrew Kahrl, author of the book "The Land Was Ours: How Black Beaches Became White Wealth in the Coastal South."
Tegan Wendland: Lincoln Beach does not have the greatest history. African-Americans were relegated there during a time of racist segregation. It was also incredibly polluted, which spurred protests that eventually resulted in its improvement. And then integration, as you've written, basically heralded the end of both city beaches. Can you explain how that happened?
Andrew Kahrl: Yes. So Lincoln Beach was created by the city in response to the demands of African-Americans for recreational spaces in the city during the time of segregation. And at the very moment when the Civil Rights Act was passed, ordering cities like New Orleans to desegregate public facilities and public accommodations, the city promptly ended its contract with the managers of Lincoln Beach, and it closed in very short order. So it was very soon after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that Lincoln Beach was promptly closed. And at the same time, whites-only beaches in the city were also resisting efforts amongst African-Americans to access them. So you have a period following desegregation in which African-Americans are actually seeing their summer recreational options dwindle even further.
And then Pontchartrain Beach ended up closing as well, partially because whites resisted its integration.
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