Black Beach/White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches

Durham, North Carolina | Film Feature


Ricky Kelly

1 Campaigns | North Carolina, United States

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This campaign raised $13,861 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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Against the backdrop of the Myrtle Beach's segregated past, this film explores the opposing views on segregation and integration, mutual love of motorcycle culture, and the racial tensions that reach a boiling point every spring in this southern beach mecca over Memorial Day weekend.

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About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
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Mission Statement

While bikers both black and white enjoy each festival; the community views these two events vastly different creating a divide among the participants, business owners and residents; especially in regards to increased police presence and the creation of a 23-mile "loop" only during Black Bike Week.

The Story

Every spring in the tourist mecca of Myrtle Beach, SC two motorcycle festivals are held on back-to-back weekends. Both festivals have a long, rich history in the area. Both festivals attract attendees that number in the 6-digits from all over the country. Both festivals bring millions of tourist dollars to the area. One festival attracts a primarily white audience; the other, a primarily black audience. The manner in which these two festivals are treated by the participants, local business owners and residents are vastly different which highlights the racial tensions boiling under the surface in this southern beach town.


We are proud to have the Southern Documentary Fund as our fiscal sponsor. This means any donation you make is tax deductible!



Located at the edge of the deep south, Myrtle Beach also has a long history of racial tension. Not long ago, the area was segregated as black people were only allowed to use a four-block strip of beach called “Atlantic Beach”. During segregation Atlantic Beach became a vital spot, attracting black patrons far and wide every summer to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. It became known as “The Black Pearl” as black tourist dollars fueled the local mom-and-pop tourist industry. Nationally known black recording artists such as James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell performed to packed houses in white Myrtle Beach, but were not allowed to actually stay the night there so they came to Atlantic Beach.



After segregation, Atlantic Beach’s prominence declined as black tourists shifted over to other, fancier parts of Myrtle Beach. By the 1980s it had fallen into disrepair, was poor and abandoned. In an effort to revitalize the area’s sagging prospects, the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bike Festival was born. From humble beginnings of a few hundred participants, it grew into a formidable national festival known as “Black Bike Week” boasting attendance figures in the 300,000s every year. Ironically, however, it quickly outstripped the ability of Atlantic Beach to support it and moved to Myrtle Beach, again leaving the area destitute; receiving little income from the festival that was envisioned to revitalize the area.


Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson aficionados had been gathering in Myrtle Beach since the 1950s. This festival had also grown in stature and audience steadily throughout the years, becoming known eventually as “White Bike Week”. It too has an uneasy relationship with the town of Myrtle Beach that has become the reluctant defacto host of both festivals.


Director Ricky Kelly also has a personal history in this area. His parents, like many black people in the south, also came to Atlantic Beach in its segregated heyday. As Ricky puts it, “I think I was conceived in Atlantic Beach.” In addition, as a motorcycle enthusiast he has come back to the area to attend both festivals as an observer and participant. His unique perspective on these two events help to underscore the growing racial tensions of both festivals, the disparity in which they are treated by the city and the love of motorcycle culture that bonds the riders, white and black.

Black Beach/White Beach: A Tale of Two Beaches tackles the many issues involved in these events, the history of racial tension of the area and the national implications of racial disparity throughout the country, from Ferguson to the White House. Using these events as a microscope to examine the broader issues at play, the film hopes to shed light on the growing problem of race relations both in Myrtle Beach and the country as a whole as we transition from the Obama era to the Trump era.


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Cash Pledge

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Costs $2,000

Proper image capture during production.

Audio kit

Costs $500

Proper audio is needed to make sure our subjects are heard loud and clear.

Production crew

Costs $3,000

The talented behind-the-scenes guys and gals who make things happen.


Costs $250

Additional travel expenses for individual shoots as they occur.

Editing and post

Costs $6,500

Getting the picture to look right sound right and tell a great story!

Lighting Equipment

Costs $500

Good lights make everyone look their best

Motion Graphics and Animation

Costs $1,250

Compelling graphics help describe complex issues in simple, easy-to-understand ways.

Bike Week 2017 Lodging

Costs $1,000

For the 2017 Bike Week, crew needs a place to stay and work out of when shooting new interviews and footage.

About This Team

David Iversen, editor/co-producer

David is an experienced documentary editor and producer. His most recent collaboration with director Rain Bennett, "Raise Up: The World Is Our Gym", recently received the Best In Show Award at the 2016 NYC Hip Hop Film Festival in 2016 ( His previous works include "A Thousand Brothers & Sisters" (an oral history of the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford, NC) and the award-winning "Live and Let Go: An American Death". Excerpts and work samples from these as well as a more complete bio, philosophy statement, and a variety of corporate projects can be found here:

David is committed to helping bring the voices of emerging and first-time filmmakers to fruition. He has a wealth of experience, resources and equipment to bring to bear on projects large and small. He is eager to work with Mr. Kelly to tell the compelling and intriguing story of the Myrtle Beach bike festivals and the history of that area with professionalism and high production values.

Current Team