Oct. 12, 2023 — Gov. Glenn Youngkin helped to unveil a historical marker at Buckroe Beach in Hampton on Thursday that is the first in a statewide program to commemorate the sites of businesses that were listed in the Green Book for black travelers during the middle part of the 20th century.
The signage marks the site of the Bayshore resort, which thrived as a beach destination for African Americans during a period when they were not allowed at other public beaches. Bayshore was one of more than 300 businesses in Virginia listed in the Green Book, published from 1936-67 as a guide directing black motorists to shops, hotels, restaurants and gas stations that would serve them in the Deep South.
A historical marker located near the James T. Wilson Fishing Pier had already noted the site of the Bayshore resort. Thursday's ceremony added a second sign marking the resort as a Green Book location. It is the first commemorative Green Book signage in the state, launching a program that aims to identify as many of those sites as possible.
"History needs to be told and it needs to be remembered — filled with good and bad," Youngkin said. "When we understand our history, we are reassured that when we remember the past, we will forge a better future."
The legislation launching the program was promoted by Del. Mike Mullin, who said he was inspired by the words of Del. Jeion Ward when she told the General Assembly about traveling as a child with her family and using the Green Book as a guide. Both Mullin and Ward attended Thursday's ceremony.
Mullin said: "I hope today, and subsequent years of research, will make sure the story of the Green Book will be told for new generations of Virginians to come."
Bayshore was established in the late 1 9th century by black businessmen from Hampton as a welcoming resort for black travelers who were not allowed at Buckroe Beach. Bayshore had an amusement park, a restaurant and a famed dance hall that hosted legendary performers such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.
The hotel played host to business conventions, bridge tournaments and other gatherings of African Americans. It was a popular destination for black residents along the East Coast and throughout the South.
"The resort that stood here for almost a century did something amazing and noteworthy," Mayor Donnie Tuck said. "It provided a lot of wonderful memories for so many people, out of a very difficult and troubled time in our region’s history. People who were told that they weren’t welcome elsewhere found a home away from home here."