'A dream come true': Historically Black beach to become park

During the Jim Crow era of forced racial segregation, Black Americans were prohibited from visiting beaches like Ocean City or Atlantic City. However, several Maryland beaches owned by the Carr family of Annapolis were getaways — known as “The Beaches” — that welcomed Black people and hosted renowned Black musicians like Billie Holiday, Count Basie and James Brown.

By Kirsten Ferguson July 22

Earlier this year, three groups — Blacks of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Conservancy and The Conservation Fund — announced the protection of Elktonia Beach, a 5-acre waterfront parcel on the Chesapeake Bay that is the last remnant of the original 180-acre property purchased by Fred Carr in 1902. The historically significant waterfront property is being acquired from a private owner, and the state of Maryland will provide more than $4.8 million toward the purchase for the development of a new Annapolis public park, with additional funds provided by city Program Open Space funds and others.

Calling it “a dream come true,” Vince Leggett, founder and president of Blacks of the Chesapeake, notes the importance of protecting Elktonia Beach as “so much more than just a pin or dot on a map. It serves as a national case study for the preservation and conservation of African American sites.”

“This parcel of land is symbolic of a significant part of Black history in the United States, as well as an important part of the city of Annapolis’ history. We are so grateful to the many partners and elected officials who helped create what will one day be a city waterfront park open for everyone to enjoy the Chesapeake while honoring our history,” says Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn.

Learn more about Elktonia Beach and its significance here.