On July 23, 1893, an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer asked frustrated business owners and tourist promoters of Atlantic City “What are we going to do with our colored people?” Noting that “never before” had the resort community seemed “so overrun with the dark skinned race as this season,” Atlantic City and other popular northern resort destinations struggled throughout the Reconstruction era to contain the recreational activities and consumer demands of black pleasure seekers. As these struggles reveal, contests over segregation were not restricted to former plantation districts, northern legislatures, the workplace, or public transportation systems. In the late nineteenth century, the popularity of the New Jersey shore coincided with growing concerns over civil rights. On beaches and boardwalks, and inside amusement venues and hotel dining halls, African Americans’ claims for integrated leisure were imbedded in political debates over the meaning of race and the rights and health of consumers....
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