Jekyll Island in Glynn County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
Historic St. Andrews Beach
From the late-1800s until the mid-1960s, Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation in the South. These laws prevented African Americans from enjoying equal access to the same public spaces as white people, including restaurants, buses, schools, drinking fountains, restrooms – and beaches.
In 1948, when Jekyll Island first opened as a state park, a reporter wrote: "Along all the hundred miles of Georgia's coast line with its scores of beautiful island and shore beaches, there's not a single foot where a Negro can stick a toe in salt water."
Then, in 1950, a group of local black business leaders petitioned for a portion of Jekyll Island to be set aside for African American use. Four years later, the Jekyll Island Authority agreed to provide land on the South End of Jekyll Island for recreational use by the black community.
With the official opening of the Beach Pavilion in 1955, African Americans at last gained their own public beach on Jekyll Island. At the time, it was the only public beach available to African Americans in Georgia, known as St. Andrews Beach.
St. Andrews Beach grew into a popular destination for blacks barred from white-only beaches. Thrilled to finally be able to visit the ocean, many local black families turned Sunday trips to St. Andrews Beach into a weekly
Testing the Waters
In the mid-1940s, three young women from Brunswick decided to take a dip in the ocean.
At the time, it was a Jim Crow ocean and sea bathing was not allowed if you were black. Nevertheless, Rena Atkins, Winsor Roberts, and Inez Walke donned their bathing suits and bravely took a cab to the seashore.
They never got their feet wet. Instead, they were arrested and locked in jail all day until friends got them out on bail. The next morning they were each fined $50 plus costs for trespassing, because there was no public beach access for African Americans in Georgia.
Although the young women never reached the ocean that day, their demonstration did draw attention to the lack of recreational options for African Americans. Through their peaceful protest, the young women took steps to gain greater public access for all. The creation of St. Andrews Beach was a victory in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.
Erected 2016 by Jekyll Island Authority.
Location. 31° 0.979′ N, 81° 25.572′ W. Marker is in Jekyll Island, Georgia, in Glynn County. Marker can be reached from South Beachview Drive 2.3 miles south of Jekyll Island Causeway (Georgia Route 520), on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is located inside the grounds of Camp Jekyll, near the gate providing beach access for the complex. Enter Camp Jekyll from South Beachview Drive, then proceed (on foot) along the walkway through the commons southeast toward the beach. Marker is at or near this postal address: 550 South Beachview Drive, Jekyll Island GA 31527, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Dolphin Motor Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); The Beach Pavilion (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Dolphin Club Lounge (about 400 feet away); St. Andrews Beach (about 700 feet away); Separate But Equal? (about 700 feet away); What Was Here Before? (approx. 2.3 miles away); Jekyll Island Boat House Site, Shipshape for the Season (approx. 2½ miles away); The Boat House Site (approx. 2½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jekyll Island.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Historic St. Andrews Beach
Categories. • African Americans • Civil Rights • Parks & Recreational Areas •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 24, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 17, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 51 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 17, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.