Town of Atlantic Beach explains how it plans to use $50K grant to showcase its history

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 7:46 AM EDT
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ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Atlantic Beach received a $50,000 project planning grant as a part of a program called Broadening Narratives.

The program, from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, focuses on helping diverse communities, specifically in Chicago and the Lowcountry of South Carolina, create collections to share their stories.

Currently, Atlantic Beach does not have a collection or exhibit that shares its history and that’s why Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans said receiving this grant is so important.

“The history of Atlantic Beach and how that beach even got started or why it even exists today, there’s very few people who know that. Of course, I know it because I’ve been there since the 1960s, but this generation, there really is not a lot of people who know the history of Atlantic Beach so it’s very important,” said Evans.

Through this grant, the town will plan how to bring the history of Atlantic Beach to life and is calling the project “Amplifying the Story of the Pearl.”

The goal of the project is to share the story of how the small town thrived during segregation in the south and withstood the Jim Crow era, and while there have been many beaches historically designated for Black beachgoers in America, Atlantic Beach is the only one in the country to remain in the hands of African Americans since its founding in 1934.

The town can now use this money to call on experts to help showcase its history, and the town already has three ideas in mind.

The first is building a museum you could walk through that displays artifacts.

Another idea includes having photos and audio collections located at the town’s four beach access points.

Finally, if you can’t physically visit Atlantic Beach, the third option would be a digital collection of the town’s history.

Jim DeWitt, Atlantic Beach councilman and longtime resident, said they’re very excited to get started on educating those unaware of the town’s history.

“It’s not often that our community receives outside funding for assistance and so we are very grateful for Donnelley Foundation because it allows us to preserve our history,” said DeWitt.

The town will have one year to use this grant for planning these future collections.

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