An eastern Delaware town has voted to change the name of one of its Delaware Bay beaches in honor of a former Black business owner, reports the Associated Press. The beach in Lewes, formerly named Beach 2, will now be called Johnnie Walker Beach after the African American business owner who created a welcoming atmosphere for Black families during the years of segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. The name change was prompted by recommendations from the African American Heritage Commission.
“I’m just excited that we’ve gotten to this point, and I’m thrilled with the emotional response from it,” Kay Carnahan, the Parks and Recreation commissioner who spearheaded the change, told the News Journal. “I thought I was just asking for a name, and I was very amazed at what this has really meant to this community.”
Johnnie Walker’s restaurant was an open pavilion which often featured live music and offered Back families a place to find connection in their community, according to reporting from the News Journal.
“There was a separation, but you didn’t even think about it,” said the Rev. George Edwards, chair of the African American Heritage Commission. “I was happy here.”