Jim Crow took wing

Military quarters were segregated and blacks sat in the balcony of the Rivoli Theater. The Ku Klux Klan burned a cross at the Ocean Forest Hotel to protest the practice of allowing black domestics to stay overnight. An imaginary line was drawn between Loris and Aynor that blacks were forbidden to cross, and blacks were not allowed on the beach at all. They were not even allowed on Ocean Boulevard after sunset unless they were wearing domestic or hotel uniforms.

That's just the way it was pretty much throughout the South, even as quite a lot of black families owned a fair amount of land in the area. Large tracts were passed down through the generations without a will, making them heir's property collectively owned by a number of different family members.

In the post-war boom developers cast their lustful eyes upon this prime real estate, and devised a technique to acquire the objects of their desire. If they could coerce just one family member into selling a share in a black-owned tract, they could go before a judge and force a courthouse partition sale. Most blacks didn't have the funds to bid on their own land or the lawyers to fight the auction.

In Myrtle Beach the black population was relegated to a section that was known as The Hill, and it is still there, now known as the Booker T. Washington Neighborhood. A nightclub called The Whispering Pines was a popular spot on The Hill, owned by one Charlie Fitzgerald.

Atlantic Beach became an all-black resort during the Jim Crow era, known then and now as the Black Pearl. When other municipalities came together in 1968 to form North Myrtle Beach - Windy Hill Beach, Crescent Beach, Ocean Drive Beach and Cherry Grove Beach - Atlantic Beach stayed out of it. To this day Ocean Boulevard ends abruptly at the fences and hedges of Atlantic Beach, the local version of the Berlin Wall.

Because black entertainers couldn't stay anywhere else, they showed up in Atlantic Beach, instruments in hand - Count Basie, Ray Charles, Billie Holliday, James Brown, the Drifters, Martha and the Vandellas, the Tams, Bo Diddly and Otis Redding.

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