Because hotels did not want blacks to mix with white tourists, Chicken Bone Beach, also known as Missouri Avenue Beach in New Jersey, was created. The Missouri Avenue Beach Area was socially restricted to African Americans.
The beach was close to the city’s black neighborhood, the Northside, where Kentucky Avenue nightclubs hosted nationally known black entertainers, musicians, and comedians from the 1920s to the 1960s.
Discrimination of all kinds, including food choices, was experienced by black guests. Out-of-town guests frequently brought a large amount of food to the beach. Because fried chicken did not spoil in the heat and bones were frequently discovered during cleanup, the locals dubbed the area “Chicken Bone Beach.”
The beach was always crowded, exactly like it is today. People came by the busloads to spend time there, drawn by the entertainment, the then-illegal gambling, and simply walking along the boardwalk.
Famous personalities like “Moms” Mabley, Martin Luther King Jr., and Sammy Davis Jr. frequently visited and were also restricted. Black lifeguards stayed within the “restricted” area and were not permitted to assist anyone outside of it.
From 1947 to 1955, it was estimated that 5,000 swimmers were helped by a patrol of six lifeguards led by the first Black captain, William “Rube” Albouy. In the 1960s, white lifeguards were “punished” by being assigned to Chicken Bone Beach, but many of them enjoyed their assignment. Chicken Bone Beach was a black-only beach until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.