Monday, May 16, 2022

Ocean City Beach Inducted onto the NC Civil Rights Trail

May 16, 2022

The Ocean City Beach Community will be honored for its historic role in North Carolina’s civil rights history with a marker on the North Carolina Civil Rights Trail. Founded in 1949, Ocean City was the only place African Americans could purchase coastal property in North Carolina, 15 years before the Civil Rights Act.

Today Ocean City is part of the Town of North Topsail Beach. It is an eclectic mix of historic homes, historic community buildings, and historic firsts. It is the location of the state’s first African American-owned fishing pier, located on the site of a former U.S. Navy “Operation Bumble Bee” observation tower. Ocean City is already a tourist favorite on the Jacksonville Onslow African American Heritage Trail. This new state designation will only increase its visibility and popularity. Hikers, bikers, and kayakers use the Mountains to Sea Trail that traverses the community. The annual Ocean City Jazz Festival attracts concertgoers from across the country. During this year’s festivities on July 1, the new historical marker will be dedicated and celebrated.

The N.C. African American Heritage Commission leads the NC Civil Rights Trail with funding from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, and with support from Visit North Carolina and the North Carolina Office of Archives & History. The commission will work with communities across the state to designate up to 50 sites where trail markers will be placed, including 10 in Hometown Strong communities. An interactive web portal highlights these places and others to guide people to history and experiences from the past.

The third round of applications for the NC Civil Rights Trail are open through August 19, 2022. To learn more about the project or to apply for a marker, please visit:

About the Historic Ocean City Community
A historic close-knit community, now a part of North Topsail Beach that remains united in values and tradition. Founded in 1949, it is known as the first community in the state where African Americans could purchase oceanfront property. The community is now home to the annual Ocean City Jazz Festival with a mission to raise appreciation for jazz, foster economic growth, unite artists and attendees, and inspire a new generation culturally through the history of the Ocean City Beach Community.

About the N.C. African American Commission
Created in 2008, the African American Heritage Commission is a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The commission works across the department to preserve, protect and promote the state’s African American history, art and culture for all people. Its endeavors include the identification of heritage sites, compiling resources for educators, extending the work of national programs such as the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Underground Railroad, and independent initiatives including the NC Civil Rights Trail.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, three science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 41 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the N.C. Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, and the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please visit

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