Tag Archives: Jim Crow

Marsha Dean Phelts, American Beach

American Beach: Under the Blue Bottle Tree with Marsha Dean Phelts

The tranquil American Beach breeze blows into Marsha Dean Phelts’ front lawn. It rattles the blue bottles stacked along a palm tree. Phelts says the beach is much quieter now than it was in its heyday. She recalls a time when, she says, “There was always a party going on. American Beach was a place everybody could enjoy and feel a sense of belonging.” For as long as she can remember, has vacationed at on . Until the Civil Rights Act’s passage in 1964, North Florida’s beaches were segregated. American Beach was the among the largest and most frequented black-only …

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BEFORE THE MUSIC DIED: LaVilla – ”The Great Black Way”

“West Ashley Street,” sang the in 1927, was the only place you could “ever lose these awful Jacksonville Blues.” That same year,  recorded a mysterious ragtime blues guitarist named playing “Ashley Street Blues,” with singing, “I’m a heartbroken woman with the Ashley Street Blues.”  recorded another version of “Jacksonville Blues” in 1928. She was “red hot” in Atlanta, she sang, “But the man I love lives down in Jacksonville.” West Ashley was the central thoroughfare for , a mostly black town after the , a slave plantation earlier in the 19th century, and during Jacksonville’s brutal Jim Crow years, one …

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