New Chesapeake Map Released: 65 Historically Black Beaches and Other Places of Black Historical Significance

Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation and Chesapeake Conservancy Partner to Shine a Light on Undertold Stories of the Chesapeake

Annapolis, MD—A new story map chronicles 65 historically Black beaches and other places of Black historical significance in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including portions of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation (BOCF) and Chesapeake Conservancy partnered on the study to empower efforts to conserve such places and ensure that the stories of the Chesapeake’s Black history are told.

The story map highlights places spanning from the landing of the first enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America to the creation of Black entertainment venues during the time of Jim Crow.

Extensive research was conducted via online resources such as newspapers, blogs, state web pages and the Negro Motorist Green Book. Locations are either beaches, parks, or supporting infrastructures that have significance and are related to nearby waterways. Chesapeake Conservancy and BOCF acknowledge that the list is not complete and imagine there are even more beaches that are significant to Black history in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“It’s so important that we continue to do the hard work of ensuring that the story of the Chesapeake is told through ebony eyes,” said BOCF President and Founder Vince Leggett. “African-American land conservation and heritage preservation has become the ‘gold standard’ for measuring the future success of the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation.”

“Rescuing African American historical sites is so important today. There are efforts currently underway to erase or minimize the teaching of true African American history. Our work allows us to document these sacred spaces and places and tell a more complete story from authentic venues. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is intrinsically linked to the early beginning of our nascent nation, particularly nestled between the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers on the western shore and the ancient rivers of the Choptank and Nanticoke,” continued Leggett.

“Black of the Chesapeake Foundation’s work has become a national case study for heritage preservation and the application of traditional and local ecological histories. We are equally sensitive to the sea level rise, climate change and the effects of environmental hazards. Many of the sites identified in this study are situated on the water’s edge, and our elders, truth-tellers and griots are disappearing at a rate far surpassing vanishing shoreline,” continued Leggett.

“After partnering with Blacks of the Chesapeake and others to conserve the historically Black Elktonia Beach for a public park in Annapolis, we knew we couldn’t stop there,” said Chesapeake Conservancy Executive Vice President Mark Conway. “There are so many other places in the Chesapeake that are significant to Black history. Some are painful reminders of the dark days of enslavement, while others are more joyous stories of recreation, entertainment and culture. All of these stories need to be told. We hope the study will lead to other Black history and conservation success stories.”

In 2022, Elktonia Beach became an Annapolis City Park. Elktonia is the last remnant of a 180-acre property purchased by freedman Frederick Carr in 1902. Nearby were Carr’s and Sparrow’s Beaches, privately owned and operated by Frederick Carr’s daughters, Elizabeth Carr Smith and Florence Carr Sparrow. “The Beaches” (1930s-1970s), as they were called, represented the heart of entertainment throughout the mid-Atlantic region and welcomed Blacks during a time of segregation. It has been a nearly 20-year goal of BOCF to preserve the remaining five acres of ”The Beaches.”

A year and a half later, Elktonia-Carr’s Beach Heritage Park expanded to the adjacent property when the city of Annapolis finalized the acquisition of the one-time home of educator and former Coppin State University President Dr. Parlett Moore. The city’s acquisition was made possible through city funding as well as funding from Anne Arundel County, The Conservation Fund, Blacks of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Conservancy, Maryland Heritage Area Authority and hundreds of private donors, including Merrill Family Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation and the William L. and Victorine Q. Adams Foundation, Inc.

The story map can be found on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s website at