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Summer in the Black Hamptons: a refuge of freedom and joy

Black beach enclaves have been an escape from the summer heat for generations. Into America heads to the “Black Hamptons” in Sag Harbor, New York.

About this episode:

In a world where being Black and free are not always congruent, Black folks in America have always found ways of escaping the strictures of this country’s racial boundaries.

In the summer, that meant leaving town, with kids getting sent South to visit relatives, road trips to safe swimming holes, and some heading to historically Black summer havens like Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and Idlewild in Michigan.

These Black edens drew generations of upwardly mobile Black people who were shut out of white America during much of the 20th century. And while some, like Bruce’s Beach in California, have been lost to land grabs and gentrification, others are holding tight.

William Pickens III, 84, grew up spending the summers in Sag Harbor Hills, one of the three small communities on Long Island, New York nicknamed the Black Hamptons. Mr. Pickens talks to Trymaine Lee about the traditions and legacy of summering while Black, and the importance of a place where Black families could be themselves.

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Find the transcript here.

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