Atlantic Beach is a tiny seaside town of around 335 inhabitants in Horry County, South Carolina. Much of the land around the town is annexed by North Myrtle Beach, which is located just to the south along the Atlantic Coast. As a result, Atlantic Beach proper comprises a very small area that consists of approximately four blocks that run perpendicular to the coast and about six blocks running parallel. This is a lower middle class town that is predominantly African-American.
The town's nickname is the Black Pearl, because most of the town's inhabitants are Gullah/Geechee people, who are descendants of the slaves that inhabited the famous Sea Islands that run beside the Atlantic Coast from Jacksonville, Florida, in the south to Wilmington, North Carolina, in the north. In the 1930s, banned from most beaches and sections of towns, African-Americans defied the Jim Crow laws and moved to Atlantic Beach; there they opened hotels, restaurants, businesses, and nightclubs. Atlantic Beach was for many years known as “Black Beach,” and only blacks were allowed to use it. Today, Atlantic Beach remains the only black-owned beach community in the United States. It is a fascinating and fun place to visit, and history buffs and anyone interested in the civil rights movement will be enthralled.