Photo of Merle McCurdy and his longtime friend, Myron Huff, performing a stage routine at Idlewild’s El Morocco Club, a popular after hour’s night club.
Coined the “Black Eden” in the 1950s and 1960s, Western Michigan’s Idlewild was a unique vacation resort town that, during the era of segregation, was one of the few areas that allowed African Americans to acquire property and retreat. At its peak, it is estimated that this resort area served over 25,000 summer guests on the 4th of July in 1959. The boon eventually subsided with “the passing of the Civil Right Acts of 1964, the many rebellions that followed in 1968, the Vietnam War, a national recession in the early 1970s, and the inability of seasonal business owners in Idlewild to be competitive with other outlets in the United States” (Stephens, 2001, p.11).
Hart, J. (1960). A Rural Retreat for Northern Negroes. Geographical Review, 50(2), 147-168. doi:10.2307/211505
Stephens, R. (2001). Idlewild: The Black Eden of Michigan. Arcadia Publishing