Unveiling the Hidden Gem: The Premiere of “Four Blocks: The Last Black Pearl”

The anticipation was palpable as social media platforms buzzed with excitement leading up to the exclusive premiere of Four Blocks: The Last Black Pearl, a captivating documentary film shedding light on a remarkable piece of history. The event was a testament to the significance of the story waiting to be told.

Nestled along the Grand Strand area, just north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, lies the enchanting Atlantic Beach, affectionately known as the “Black Pearl”. This hidden gem, once owned by Black individuals of Gullah Geechee ancestry, holds a rich tapestry of narratives that have shaped its identity over the years. From the visionary George Tyson’s purchase of 47 acres in 1934 to the thriving community that flourished until the early ’70s, Atlantic Beach stands as an attestation to resilience and cultural heritage.

Jasmine Frink, a resident of Austin and native of Horry County, is a product of her roots and holds an unwavering passion for history. Growing up in the vibrant community of North Myrtle Beach, the name ‘Atlantic Beach’ echoed through local conversations, particularly within the Black community. Regrettably, its reputation was overshadowed by two prevailing associations—the Atlantic Beach Bikefest and crime.

It was during Jasmine’s high school years, fueled by her own curiosity and research, that she unearthed the hidden treasure of Atlantic Beach. The Black Pearl, as it is aptly named, emerged as Horry County’s best-kept secret. The authentic narratives and profound history of Atlantic Beach, however, were fading away, untold and overlooked by the succeeding generations.

Recognizing the urgency to preserve this cultural legacy, Jasmine Frink joined forces with Madelyn Patterson (Lady Madelyn), Owner and Director of GoneMad Productions, to craft an unapologetic narrative of Atlantic Beach. This collaborative endeavor, born out of a shared commitment to truth and storytelling, has been an enlightening journey. As they embarked on this odyssey, they are acutely aware that this project marks only the initiation of a transformative narrative—one that is dedicated to unfolding and sharing with the world.

Pictured left to right, Screening Host Phyllis Everett, Film Producer Madelyn Patterson, Writer, Director Jasmine Frink and Horry County Historic Preservation Commissioner Patricia Mallett.

The premiere was graced by the presence of Patricia Mallett, a resident of Horry County and the Horry County Historic Preservation Commissioner. Her commitment to preserving the history and richness of Atlantic Beach was evident as she shared poignant insights into the Gullah Geechee people and their deeply rooted connections to West Africa.

The audience was captivated by her words, which painted a vivid picture of the unique culture and language that have endured through generations. Patricia could tell the story so vividly, understanding the history. Patricia visited Sierra Leone, Africa to learn about how this country and the Gullah Geechee people were connected.

As the audience settled in to watch the film, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of kinship and shared history. The venue, Huston-Tillotson University (HT), provided the perfect backdrop for an evening of cultural immersion and storytelling. Guests indulged in southern delicacies, including the delectable Cranky Granny’s Sweet Rolls, adding a touch of authenticity to the experience.

The documentary itself was a journey through time, offering a glimpse into the lives of those who called Atlantic Beach home. Through the lens of the film, attendees were transported to the four blocks that held a wealth of untold stories and hidden treasures. The music that filled the room served as a touching reminder of the vibrant community that once thrived in this unique corner of the world.

As the credits rolled and the lights came up, there was a sense of awe and appreciation in the room. The premiere had succeeded in its mission to shine a light on the legacy of Atlantic Beach and invite others to explore its rich history and vibrant community. Whether drawn to its pristine shoreline, rich cultural heritage, or the warmth of its people, Atlantic Beach beckons all to uncover its hidden gems and celebrate its enduring legacy.

The premiere of Four Blocks: The Last Black Pearl was not just a film screening; it was a celebration of history, culture, and community. It served as a reminder of the importance of preserving our heritage and sharing our stories with the world.

As the night drew to a close, the song “Black Pearl” told the importance of honoring our legacy and history. This moving ballad, which Patrica loves, beautifully narrates the story of a Black woman, cherished as her man’s sweetheart, his world, his Black Pearl. In a time marked by segregation, Patricia vividly recalls the emotions she experienced as a young Black girl, navigating a world fraught with division and being among the first five students to integrate into a segregated school.

The evening reached its peak with thunderous applause, emphasizing the significance of acknowledging the tireless efforts and progress made in upholding the essence of “Black Pearl.” The anticipation for the full-length feature film slated for release in 2025 in Austin is palpable, a true testament to the dedication and passion of the exceptional individuals driving this project forward. As the audience dispersed, the echoes of Atlantic Beach’s past lingered in the air, proof of the lasting spirit of a place known as the “Black Pearl.”

A heartfelt round of applause goes out to the talented team, including Jasmine, Lady Madelyn, and Patricia, with special recognition for the exceptional editor, Jovette Newton, for their remarkable contributions. Kudos to these phenomenal women for their outstanding work and dedication.

Phyllis Everette is the Founder and CEO of Saffron Trust. To learn more about Four Blocks: The Last Black Pearl, visit the documentary’s website. For more information on Atlantic Beach, South Carolina, or to plan a trip, follow this link.


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