In the early 1930s, when African-Americans were restricted by Jim Crowe segregation laws, Atlantic Beach-known to some as the ‘Black Pearl'-was formed as a vacation getaway for African-American individuals and families. Throughout this first decade, black men and women opened hotels, restaurants, night clubs, and novelty shops in Atlantic Beach. The small coastal area grew to become a popular vacation destination, and black-owned businesses thrived in this small community nestled in the heart of North Myrtle Beach.
Throughout the next four decades, Atlantic Beach was one of the most popular resorts for African-Americans on the East Coast of the United States, with a beautiful environment, sunny beaches, and great diversity of entertainment, food, and art. The small, seaside town was incorporated in 1966. Today, the area continues to be a community rich in heritage and historic identity and hosts events to celebrate the area's culture year after year.
Many Atlantic Beach residents are descendants of the Gullah-Geechee people, former slaves from the West Coast of Africa who lived and worked in the coastal area from around Jacksonville, Florida, to Wilmington, North Carolina. Today, many of these residents are working for preservation of the rich heritage and traditions of their community. An annual festival, popular among tourists and locals, celebrates the Gullah-Geechee culture with food, music and dancing.