On Long Island, a Beachfront Haven for Black Families


[SEAGULLS SQUAWKING] You couldn’t be taught to swim in Harlem for those who didn’t go to the Harlem Y. There was no effort to actually encourage children in Harlem and Brooklyn to learn to swim. So a lot of my buddies by no means realized learn how to swim. And that’s unhappy, as a result of three/four of the world is water. So for those who don’t know learn how to survive round water, you’re a little extra in jeopardy. But segregation, that was one other price of segregation and discrimination. You couldn’t even be taught to swim in New York. I imply, New York is surrounded by water. [MUSIC PLAYING] When most Japanese [INAUDIBLE] it’s not in the midst of a huge, smoke-clogged, industrial metropolis, however within the tree-lined outskirts of a small American city, the seaport group named Sag Harbor within the state of New York. The historical past of Sag Harbor, U.S.A., has been tied to the ocean. A century in the past, its title was recognized on virtually all the seven seas, for Sag Harbor was dwelling port to a number of the most well-known of America’s whaling fleet, ships that scoured the world for essentially the most valuable and largest of the ocean’s creatures. [MUSIC PLAYING] Many of the African-American males that had been right here established their wealth via the occupation of whaling. Black folks realized learn how to sail. Now, we got here right here on sailboats 300 years in the past, however we weren’t operating these boats. Here, you run your personal sailboat. You’re in command. African-American girls had been matriarchs on this group due to their husbands’ occupation. They owned land right here legally earlier than girls had been allowed to personal land. They had been head of households due to the wealth that they accrued collectively. Sag Harbor was at all times a place, particularly Eastville, the place free Blacks lived amongst Natives and amongst working-class white folks. And so the concept all these folks dwelling collectively doing their factor on this group – and that is within the 1800s – was clearly not frequent. This home has a historical past of getting three households of Black ancestry dwelling in it. Before SANS developed, the summer season homes had been mine and the three or 4 right here and a few which might be on Liberty Street. They had been all summer season homes. And it’s principally from that group that SANS actually received began. [MUSIC PLAYING] This wasn’t fascinating land again then as a result of it was marsh. It wasn’t developed. And so it was attainable. [MUSIC PLAYING] Sag Harbor was a uncommon alternative. So, we stay within the Azurest neighborhood. Azurest is the “A” in SANS. SANS stands for Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, Ninevah, Subdivisions. The early homes had been small. There wasn’t a lot of money within the outdated days, and so folks constructed what they might afford. And on the time, African-Americans had issue getting mortgages. So they actually had been simply constructing what that they had in money readily available. [MUSIC PLAYING] The Black banks developed as a result of Blacks couldn’t get cash from the predominantly white banks. African-Americans weren’t being supplied stunning, virgin land on the water anyplace in America. This is within the ‘40s, you know, and so we were up against a lot of resistance. And so we had to certainly use our own people to get financing. [MUSIC PLAYING] Now, this tree is an old hickory tree. And it’s well-known on these grounds as a result of that is a tree that Langston Hughes wrote poetry underneath in 1952. He was visiting the Pickens, and he got here right here, and he knew the Trotts, as a result of all of the households knew one another within the space. And he got here right here, and he cherished the tree, and he cherished the bench, and he simply sat right here and wrote poetry. Well, after we had been youngsters, actually you knew everyone. Back then, there have been solely about 14 or 15 homes in all of Sag Harbor Hills, so everyone was an aunt or an uncle. It was like a massive, prolonged household. Our grandparents knew one another, our children at the moment are buddies, and our grandchildren are buddies. So we’ve had 5 generations of friendships. I believe locations like Sag Harbor are crucial to the African-American group, as a result of it’s actually a protected haven. The phrase group has the phrase unity in it. And we’re united within the love and reverence for this place. In my household, I’m the fifth technology, via my granddaughter, to occupy this land. Five generations. I’d prefer it to be 10. [MUSIC PLAYING] The builders are actually concentrating on our group. It’s very best actual property. They need to flip it to a completely different form of group, and we would like it to be ours nonetheless. And it’s not that we object to different folks shifting in, it’s simply that we need to preserve the sense of group. If they need to come and be a a part of the group, it’s advantageous. But if you wish to come and chase all of us out, it’s a complete completely different factor. And that’s the issue. And you may have a developer and a few folks pushing an agenda that isn’t the correct agenda to strategy, and it’s extra of a scare tactic. [MUSIC PLAYING] [CHILDREN GIGGLING] There are issues that may be finished, however it’s presupposed to be finished collectively by the group. So for me, as a historian, a preservationist, a historical past trainer and professor, I’ll proceed to inform the story and write it down till everybody learns in regards to the tenacity of the ladies and the boys who proceed to be sure that their youngsters have entry to what each one mom, grandmother, auntie, cousin wished. So, I believe for children, and significantly our children, prefer to see that that is what they arrive from and that is their historical past, this isn’t new, and simply form of understanding how their great-grandparents, I assume, received right here. It’s simply one thing that they should know. And hopefully, they worth it, as a result of what we actually need to have occur is that this will get handed on and on and on. And I believe the worst factor you’d see right here is issues not being handed on to the following technology. [MUSIC PLAYING]



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