Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Black beach fest

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Found this photo the other day at my parents’ house. Made me crack up.

Back in the summer of either 1990 or 1991, I traveled with two friends from my hometown of Mahopac, N.Y. to Jones Beach for a day of relaxation in the sun.

We had no real expectations. Sand. Girls. Water. Ice cream. Really, nothing out of the ordinary.

As we pulled closer, however, something unique became increasingly clear. There were people. Lots of people. Lots and lots of people. And they were all black. Now, I certainly had no problem with this, but it was an unusual sight considering our hometown was as diverse as the contents of a milk factory.

Anyhow, I’m white, and my friend Craig was white. But the other member of our party, Jonathan, is African-American. And as soon as we realized we were unintentional attendees at Jones Beach’s annual Summer Black Beach Fest event, he smiled from ear to ear.

“Now you guys know how it feels!” he laughed. “Now you know!”

It was one of my all-time favorite moments.

And a wonderful lesson.