Segregation Made This Resort One Of The Most Successful In The Nation

"We want white tenants in our white community" sign
Leslie Taylor-Grover
April 1, 2020

Traditionally we have been led to believe that when it comes to race in this country, all segregation is a bad thing and that all integration is a good thing. But is that always true? Consider a place called “Idlewild.”

In a time where we were spat on, beaten, arrested or straight up refused entry into hotels, restaurants and swimming pools, Idlewild was a respite just for us. Built in 1915, it was the largest, most successful resort in the Midwest during its heyday.

Located in one of the most beautiful parts of Michigan, “Black Eden” as it was also called was 3,000 acres of beautiful homes, lush landscapes, luxurious hotels, amazing outdoors, and scenic views. And the best part? It was not just a place to be enjoyed by the rich and famous.

Still, the Black rich and famous of the day flocked to Idlewild in droves, right alongside everyday working people. Famous performers could work without the barriers they often faced in the outside world. Everyday people lived their best lives in Idlewild, free of the stress racism brings on us. All was well - until desegregation legislation destroyed our happy place.

Once we were able to purchase land in white areas, go to white hotels, and eat at white restaurants, we abandoned our paradise and the resort quickly went downhill. Today, all that exists of Idlewild is a few homes and run-down buildings. We have to wonder, though: what’s to stop us from reviving this paradise once again?