Sea Breeze to Sherbet Town: An Historic African American Beach Resort Lost to Affluenza

  • Elizabeth Hines University of North Carolina-Wilmington
Keywords: Historic African American beach, coastal development, affluenza


From the 1920s to the 1970s African Americans enjoyed the restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels of an exclusively black beach known as Sea Breeze. After an 1898 white supremacist riot, Wilmington blacks had few places to recreate away from whites so Sea Breeze attracted black customers and ente1tainers and provided a popular refuge. Two inlet projects, a hmTicane, and the end of segregation contributed to Sea Breeze's demise. As recent coastal real estate values have grown, Sea Breeze with its water views and access to the Intracoastal Waterway has experienced a building boom which I refer to as affluenza. Wilmington's African American Sea Breeze veterans decry the loss of their beloved beach and the eradication of their history. The social and physical changes in Sea Breeze from the 1920s to the present demonstrate that affluenza trumps African American nostalgia.