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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Naturally, Sophia Finally Found out about Beach Lady

When I was rocking my first set of traditional locks circa 2003, someone told me about "Beach Lady". My Floridian co-worker at the time asked me if I was going to grow my locks, which were very blond and long, as long as Beach Lady's locs. He gave me a vague physical description but did not tell me her significance.


I recently found out about her:

MaVynee Oshun Betsch, known as "The Beach Lady and the unofficial mayor of American Beach, has made it her full-time mission to protect her community: physically, culturally, spiritually, and historically until her death in September of 2005.
A striking, eccentric figure, with her six-foot long dreadlocks arranged purposefully to follow the shape of the Niger River and her left hand's curling 16-inch long nails protected by a plastic bag, MaVynee uses her appearance to attract others to her cause of keeping alive the legacy of American Beach.
Taking on major developers, and with almost no material resources at all, MaVynee stands firm in her commitment to the conservation of the beach and the perpetuation of the legacy of the founder of American Beach, her great-grandfather Abraham Lincoln Lewis.
Here is a little more info on American Beach:
a unique Florida seaside community on Amelia Island that provided relaxation, recreation, and rejuvenation for hundreds of thousands of African Americans throughout the South. Though founded in 1935 as a summer haven for segregated Blacks, the land that American Beach occupies has had a special relationship with people of African descent for over two hundred years.

From slavery to self-sustenance, it has come to symbolize success, achievement, and the American Dream, but its precarious location sandwiched in between two billion-dollar resort communities, Amelia Island Plantation and Summer Beach Resort, make it vulnerable.
Amelia Island Plantation has purchased 83 acres of undeveloped land in American Beach, planning to build an assisted living facility, five holes of a nine-hole golf course, and at least seventy houses. The encroaching development threatens the Black beach community north of Jacksonville, with its residents struggling to keep their properties, their heritage, and a unique and singular way of life.

American Beach is an incongruity, a respite of whimsy with no two houses alike, nestled between developments designed with money in mind. The threat of extinction that it faces from many different sources.
You can find more info and references on Wikipedia if interested.

7 comments:

Xcentric Pryncess said...

interesting story...

Lola Gets said...

Facinating woman and cause - great post!
L

Amba said...

Wow! bit of a shocker her locks!! But she's amazing. Thanks for stopping by my blog Sophia. I love your blog and all the interesting facts and fun things you share. Your hair is gorgeous and you started with great length(I'm a long hair fan).

Amba said...

Fyi: Sophia you can email me for my phone contacts if you want to come for a free consultation. I don't know how far away you are from me though.

toni said...

I've read a little about her and American Beach and both are fascinating. Most people don't know that she was once a opera singer in Europe and is the sister of former Spelman College president Johnetta Cole.

Aya said...

Whoa, what an interesting and insightful article. Thanks for sharing this.

Renea said...

I have to think about this...