Overlooked Aspects of Local History
Journeys into Riviera Beach
The experiences of African Americans in the area over the course of centuries have too often been overlooked and underappreciated. Efforts are being made to better document and disseminate this heritage, understand the challenges and triumphs of people of color, and celebrate the profound ways in which they have influenced and enriched our communities.
"In 1873 a free black man, Greenberry Johnson, who had bought property in 1853 and 1865, offered the Board of School Commissioners land for a Rock Point School for black children," Cunningham writes. "He died before completing this gift, but his children, Mary Johnson, Ann Rebecca Hall and Mary Elizabeth Richards, carried out his wishes, signing the conveyance on [Jan.] 23, 1874. This school was on what now is Bayside Beach Road at its intersection with what now is Fort Smallwood Road. In 1876, with J.W. Robinson as their teacher, black children on the peninsula attended school for the first time."
."..We have only the white race of people living in this area because until the recent federal law concerning non-segregation was enacted each of the beaches had clauses in their deeds restricting the sale of land to white gentiles only...."
* Located on the Magothy River to the east of Lake Waterford, the newly opened Beachwood Park is known by locals as a great spot for fishing, but few people are aware of its existence. Beachwood Park is also a historical site. From 1948 to the early 1960s, the park was owned and operated as an African-American beach resort and amusement facility. It later became the first integrated park, welcoming all who wished to come. As the only family-friendly beach in the mid-Atlantic region open to African-Americans, the location thrived and even hosted musical legends such as James Brown and Tina Turner.
Image Credit: Anne Arundel County