One year ago, surfer Gigi Lucas stood for the first time in the soft, warm sands of NaNa Dune outside of Jacksonville and experienced a rare feeling: a sense of privilege as a dark-skinned Black woman. Lucas, an athletic beauty with an enviable crown of dreadlocks, is acutely aware that the surfing lifestyle she adopted as an African-American woman wouldn’t have been possible only a few decades prior. “Overwhelming gratitude” swept over her on American Beach, which contains a history lost to the larger world and even to some in her own community. The 33-acre stretch of shoreline was purchased by Florida’s first Black millionaire, A.L. Lewis, in 1935 to provide beach access to Black residents at a time when many beaches were deemed white-only. He advertised it as “recreation without humiliation.”

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