Skip to content Reclaiming Black Beaches: On Alison Rose Jefferson’s “Living the California Dream”

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ALISON ROSE JEFFERSON documents a world I knew little about before reading her new important book, Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era.

They are African Americans with the privilege, pluck, and good luck to afford to holiday together by the sea.

Barriers to entry for African American beachgoers were, of course, what gave rise to Black beach enclaves in the early 20th century.

Jefferson’s book centers African Americans in California, but she acknowledges the “open discrimination against African Americans, Mexicans, Asians, and Jews” in California, as well as Europeans who became white over the 20th century.

African Americans and Jewish Americans cooperated to ensure their own access to Lake Elsinore, another California leisure site, by committing their resources to each other.

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