African American Culture in Atlantic City

Atlantic City has been a tourist destination since its founding in 1854, and the growth of the African American community during and after the post-Civil War “Great Migration”  helped the City quickly become popular for African Americans contributing to Atlantic City becoming a premier vacation resort from the 1880s to the 1940s. Many black-owned businesses began to operate in what was known as the “Northside”, anchored by bars, restaurants, and most-notably, the music on and around Kentucky Avenue.


Art Dorrington

In 1950 Art Dorrington became the first African American hockey player to sign a National Hockey League contract when he joined the New York Rangers. He played for the Atlantic City Seagulls who were a part of the Eastern Hockey League. Later he created the Art Dorrington Ice Hockey Foundation, which teaches hockey to children from low-income families in Atlantic City.

1964 Democratic National Convention

In late August of 1964, famous political personalities came to Atlantic City, New Jersey to attend the Democratic National Convention that was being held at Boardwalk Hall. During this convention Fannie Lou Hamer, a member of the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party group, challenged the seating of the all-white Mississippi delegation. Fannie Lou Hamer was famously quoted in Atlantic City saying, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired!"

Chicken Bone Beach

There is even a deep cultural history connected to the sandy shoreline. Around 1900 a section of the beach was designated exclusively African American and remained that way until the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Black entrepreneurs provided entertainment during the summer evenings with performers like the Mills Brothers and Louis Jordan. In 1997 the Atlantic City Council passed an ordinance changing the beach known as Missouri Avenue Beach to Chicken Bone Beach historical landmark.

Kelsey’s Restaurant

One of the top restaurants in the city, the renowned Kelsey’s is located in the heart of Atlantic City. This black-owned restaurant has been featured on the Food Network’s T.V show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives." Owners Kelsey and Kimberly Jackson turned their fantasy into reality

African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey

Located in the Noyes Art Garage of Stockton University the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey teaches attendees African Americans history and culture in Atlantic City. Visitors can explore the 2,000 square foot museum full of drawings, books, and other fascinating artifacts. 

The Civil Rights Garden

Experience Atlantic City's beautiful Civil Rights Garden located just one block off the Boardwalk on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The garden represents the history and struggles of African Americans, it features a winding narrow brick path surrounded by black granite columns.

Black-Owned Businesses