What we did on our summer vacations: Revisiting Idlewild

As we reach the peak of the summer heat, theGrio celebrates the legacy of Black summer retreats, beginning with Idlewild, Michigan.

On Wednesday, July 20, ownership of a strip of Los Angeles’ Manhattan Beach—formerly known as “Bruce’s Beach”—was restored to the family of its original owners, Charles and Willa Bruce. In the early 20th century, the Bruces had purchased two plots on the prime oceanfront, developing them into a haven for Black beachgoers and consequently enduring years of racial harassment before being driven off their property by the local government’s claim of eminent domain in 1924.

It would take nearly 100 years until the Bruces’ descendants would emerge victorious, as Los Angeles County finally recognized their rightful and long-held claim to the land. But the battle for Bruce’s Beach inspired theGrio to revisit other historic enclaves for Black vacationers, some still enduring and others nearly forgotten. As we wind our way through the sweltering dog days of summer 2022, we’re taking a look at several locales where our ancestors once spent their leisure time, beginning with the once-idyllic Michigan lakefront community known as Idlewild.

Idlewild theGrio.com

Portrait of a group of unidentified friends and/or family members of future newspaper publisher John H. Sengstacke as they pose on the beach outside the Idlewild Club House, Idlewild, Michigan, September 1938. Idlewild, known as ‘the Black Eden,’ was a resort community that catered to African Americans, who were excluded from other resorts prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Photo by The Abbott Sengstacke Family Papers/Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)

“It’s always hard to leave Idlewild on a summer Sunday afternoon,” mused the narrator of Alice Randall’s 2020 historical novel Black Bottom Saints. While beloved rap icons Outkast based Idlewild in their native Georgia for their 2006 film

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