Plymouth, N.C., 1921: No place for Jim Crow

“To venture into many of the small towns situated on barrier islands or peninsulas was to venture outside the archetypal Jim Crow South and into places characterized by high rates of religious and ethnic diversity, social practices and cultural sensibilities that shocked, horrified and piqued the curiosity of visitors….

“Recounting a visit to Plymouth, North Carolina, a remote town near the Albemarle Sound, in 1921, Bruce Cotten, a tobacco planter’s son, speculated that the inhabitants had ‘partaken too heavily of the Lotus Plant[s]’ that lined the waterways leading into town. ‘A motley crowd of whites and blacks [crowded] the sidewalks and streets [giving] the impression of an Oriental Market Place…. There was plentiful signs of bootleg whiskey, as well as intimacies between black girls and white boys, which were openly going on and jested about….. My first impulse was to inquire my way to the American Consulate.'”

— From “The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South” by Andrew W. Kahrl (2012)

 

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