During the long, hot summers of the late 1960s to 1970s, anti-poverty activist Ned Coll of Connecticut campaigned to open some of America’s most exclusive beaches to minorities and the urban poor. Coll noted that the state permitted public access to only seven miles of its 253-mile shoreline and that nearly all of the state’s coast was held privately, for the most part by white, wealthy residents.
Free the Beaches tells the story of the controversial protester who gathered a band of determined African American mothers and children and challenged their exclusion.
Special guest: Lebert “Gee” Lester, whose childhood story is told in the book.
Andrew W. Kahrl is associate professor of history and African American studies at the University of Virginia.