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Black people on beach

Protesters have taken to one of Cape Town's most picturesque beaches after private security guards were accused of ordering black visitors to leave. The guards, hired by local residents, allegedly cleared the Clifton 4th beach of tourists last Sunday evening. Demonstrators say black beachgoers were unfairly targeted, but the firm denies closing the beach and says it only acts to protect residents from crime.

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Charleston, like many southern cities, was segregated during the Jim Crow era and beyond.

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S ummer has arrived, which, for many Americans, means day camps for children, afternoons lounging by a pool, and weekend trips to the beach.

But for many others, summer brings new burdens, frustrations and fears: the end of free or reduced meals for children at schools, the added cost of childcare and the search — often in vain — for safe, affordable and accessible places to play and cool off on a hot day. The infamous Chicago race riot, which lasted seven days and claimed 38 lives, began on the shores of Lake Michigan, when white youth gang members stoned to death a black teenager named Eugene Williams after he had accidentally drifted across a color line in the water.

To Dad and Mama, the blue lake always had a tinge of red from the blood of that young black boy. In the decades that followed, local governments across the US enacted a host of policies and practices deed to segregate places of outdoor leisure by race and effectively exclude people of color from public beaches.

Black people beach images

In the south, those methods were quite explicit. Throughout the Jim Crow era, shockingly high s of black youth drowned each summer while playing in dangerous, and unsupervised, bodies of water.

When white officials did respond to black demands for beaches and parks of their own, they invariably selected remote, polluted, often hazardous, locations. In New Orleans, it was a remote site on Lake Pontchartrain, 14 miles from downtown, surrounded on both sides by fishing camps that dumped raw sewage into the lake.

In the north, whites employed more subtle, but no less effective, methods of segregation.

Predominantly white suburbs and towns in the north-east, for example, deated their public beaches for residents only, or charged exorbitant access fees for non-residents, or barred non-residents from parking near the shore, all deed to keep minority populations in neighboring cities out. City officials, meanwhile, failed to provide black neighborhoods with safe and decent places of public recreation and deliberately made beaches and pools frequented by middle-class whites inaccessible to the poor and people of color.

While the boys screamed for help, less than a mile away lifeguards kept a watchful eye over children playing in the surf at Byram Beach, one of three public beaches in the neighboring town of Greenwich, Connecticut. But despite its close proximity, these beaches, and the safety they afforded bathers, were not an option for Martin, Hicks, and all other black children living in Port Chester.

They were for Greenwich residents only.

Cape town race row erupts after 'black visitors cleared from beach'

Such senseless tragedies fueled black unrest and played no small role in sparking urban uprisings during the long, hot summers of the s. Inpublic housing residents in Hartford, Connecticut, staged a series of protests following the drowning deaths of several children along a dangerous section of a river that snaked through their housing project.

The Kerner commission concurred. In response, cities hastily built above-ground swimming pools and placed sprinklers on fire hydrants in black neighborhoods. But aside from these modest gestures, little was done to address the underlying causes of summertime segregation and recreational inequality. Earlier this spring, officials in Westport, Connecticut, dramatically increased parking fees and slashed the of passes sold to non-residents at its public beach.

Mosquito beach

The move came after locals complained about the growing s of outsiders there the summer. Local residents have subjected visitors to beatings and assaults, racist epithets, sexual harassment, dog attacks, death threats, property destruction and vandalism, all with the tacit approval of local law enforcement. As a result, it is common to find black children living in Los Angeles who have never even seen the Pacific Ocean, much less spent a day on its shores. It is the result of public policies and private actions that, by de, aimed to segregate bodies of water by race and allow whites to claim the most desirable outdoor spaces to themselves.

Many of these policies and practices remain in effect today.

Undoing them is critical to making public space in America truly public, and to ensuring that all Americans enjoy the basic human right to leisure and recreation. Photograph: Bob Adelman.

America’s segregated shores: beaches' long history as a racial battleground

Andrew W Kahrl. Tue 12 Jun This is what it feels like to be black in white spaces Elijah Anderson. Topics Race features. Reuse this content.