South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley wants to ban the Atlantic Beach Bikefest or, as it is usually called, Black Bike Week. Black Bike Week is ostensibly a motorcycle rally but is really more of a ghetto-fabulous festival of drunken twerks. It is big, loud and scary for old white people.
So far, most press outlets have been covering the furor over Black Bike Week as a motorcycle story but this is hardly about bikes. Governor Haley is either going to back down and shut up about Black Bike Week or she is going to find herself in a shouting match about race relations in the New South.
Haley (photo above) is alarmed because this year during Black Bike Week three people were killed and seven were injured in five confirmed shootings. It became national news and Haley reacted like this:
“Eight shootings happened during this weekend. Three people died. That is not okay for South Carolina.”
“This Bikefest does not represent the people of this state. It does not represent what we are trying to do when we promote tourism and jobs.”
“There are no revenues worth the bad press that we got this past weekend. There are no revenues worth the lack of companies that will come to this area because of what happened this weekend…. There’s nothing worse that the governor wants to see than Myrtle Beach on the front page of USA Today in a negative light. In a time when we are trying to improve the tourism in South Carolina, trying to bring jobs to South Carolina, trying to show everybody why Horry County is such a great place to live, work, vacation and raise a family.”
“It is time for that Bikefest to come to an end, and that is the way I’m going to talk to the elected officials of Atlantic Beach. I think it’s time for everybody in Horry County to come together to say, ‘No More.’ We are proud of our state. We are proud of the look of our state. We are proud of the actions of our state. We are proud of the people of our state, and the state deserves to be respected and the area deserves to be respected. It’s time for this activity to stop.”
There was an immediate backlash. The Associated Press quoted an Atlantic Beach resident named Jennequa Miller as saying, “If you’re going to stop the black bikers weekend, you should stop all biker weekends, regardless if nothing happened during that time. That’s unfair.”
Until the 1960s, Atlantic Beach was the only blacks only beach in Virginia, the Carolinas or Georgia. Visitors called it “The Black Pearl.”
Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans insists that Black Bike Week will continue. “I’m not above talking to Grand Strand city leaders and coming together with them and making sure they handle the problem, which is to make sure everybody abides by the law,” he said. “But I’m not willing to sit down at the table with anyone and discuss canceling Bikefest.”
“The $60,000 or so the town makes on Bikefest fees is a big chunk of its $500,000 annual budget. A little bit of money is a lot to us,” Evans said.