American Beach was a thriving beach vacation community set up by an African American millionaire and business owner in order to provide a comfortable place for his employees and other African Americans to recharge with a little old-fashioned rest and relaxation. When the community was created in 1935 by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, there was a strong need for this type of community due to segregation laws. Black Americans were not allowed on most beaches in Jacksonville, FL, which was just South of the American Beach Community. With excellent hotels and entertainment, the community became a safe haven for African Americans around the country and featured performers such as Ray Charles and Cab Calloway to further celebrate the culture.
In 1964 the celebration began to dim. American Beach suffered a great deal of hurricane damage and when segregation laws were overturned with the Civil Rights Act many went back to more mainstream areas for their vacations. Although American Beach was damaged, various people have been driven to preserve the the community from a historical, architectural, and cultural standpoint.
At American Beach Foundation, our non-profit organization aims to remind those of the current generation of the historical and cultural significance of the area. The foundation is also working to preserve and rebuild the area in the same spirit in which it was created. We sponsor cultural events, educational programs, contribute architectural resources, and advocate for the community at large. In recent years, new construction has started to emerge in the area that threatens to taint the memory of this community and its connection to its historic past. In order to offset these changes, American Beach Foundation has also established a college fund, offering scholarships to those who have attended public schools in the Nassau County. By supporting new generations, we hope to help fuel our global initiative toward conservation, preservation, and restoration of American Beach.
Preserving both the community of American Beach and the beaches themselves has proven to be an uphill battle, and our organization hopes to raise funds to help with out overall initiative and help send worthy recipients in the area to public universities throughout the state of Florida.