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Free the Beaches: the Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America’s Most Exclusive Beaches

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Autor:   •  May 14, 2018  •  Essay  •  639 Words (3 Pages)  •  68 Views

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The beach, for some, the word evokes images of bright summer days along sandy shores, perfect for a typical family outing. Kids splashing in the blue waters. In short beaches evokes a sense of happiness. However, in the late 1960’s and 70’s, beaches were a site of raucous protests. Connecticut’s shoreline became a ground zero for a movement against private ownership of the beaches. A man name Ned Coll made it his mission to open them up to minorities and poor people of the cities. Proffessor Andrew Karhl through his book “Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America’s Most Exclusive Beaches”, uses Ned Coll as a vehicle to address the underlying of issue of racial segregation through policies and decisions, evident in various part of the United States.

The late 19th century, marks the beginning of “Private Beach Associations.” These associations were formed by group of homeowners who aimed at privatizing public spaces such as the beach. They proliferated in the 1920’s and in the post war era. By the 1960’s they were about 54 beach associations along the state shorelines in addition to 184 private clubs and residential non-stock corporations. The privatization of beaches meant that only a few select communities had access to these so called public beaches. These communities largely included the ‘white’ majority. When it came to the African –American minority, their access was denied. They only had access to some spaces that were usually polluted and often came with serious health hazards, which makes it clear how policies in the 19th century, produced racial segregation.

In opposition to these exclusionary laws, was a man called Ned Coll, Jesuit educated Hartfordite. He forgave his career in insurance and gave all his life protesting against the exclusionary policy makers. He thought that places of outdoor recreation could be the perfect opportunities to get racially integrated. He began first by renting a school bus, bringing a bunch of children from Hartford’s North End, which was the city’s predominantly black neighborhood, with the idea of going down the shore and providing them with a day at the beach. However, he soon discovered that there were very few places that they could actually access and the places they attempted to go, they were not received kindly. Coll soon began to realize that the wealthy families along the shoreline were in fact the ones who stood in the way of social progress and they were responsible for the racial segregation taking place. Followed by this realization, he founded the Revitalization Corps in 1964, which focused on trying to help create an integrated society. With the help of the organization and several members of the colored community, Coll was also able to start the ‘Open Beach Movement’. A protest to make the privatized


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