The History of Bruce's Beach

The History of Bruce's Beach

During Black History Month, we have a responsibility to take a critical eye to our own history locally. Racism and discrimination are not just legacies left behind from other places in the country — they have happened right here in our own backyard.

One example: Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach. The land it stood on was bought in 1912 by Willa and Charles Bruce, a young Black couple who turned it into the West Coast's first beach resort owned by and meant for Black Americans. Many other Black families followed suit and for twelve years, this beach and the surrounding area served as a chance for Black people in and around the community to enjoy the surf and sand in a place they could call their very own.

But in 1924, following years of complaints from white neighbors and even attacks on the resort by the KKK, the City of Manhattan Beach took over the resort using eminent domain under the pretense of building a city park. The Black property owners and beachgoers were forced off the property and the land stayed empty for decades.

A century later, we still haven't properly dealt with this dark history and the impact it has had on generations of Black families in LA County. The City of Manhattan Beach has created a task force that will be making recommendations to the City Council for next steps, including rewriting a historically inaccurate plaque that credits the white property developer. I think this is a good start and means there is an important and long-overdue conversation happening in Manhattan Beach.

I think we can and should go further. The LA County Lifeguard Headquarters sits on the land that was once Bruce’s Beach. I take this very seriously and I want the County to be part of an eventual solution. The Bruce family and the other Black landowners had their property and livelihoods taken from them. We need to think long and hard about what real justice looks like for their descendants.

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  • elena cecconi
    commented 2021-04-12 17:20:27 -0700
    Why are you only focusing on the Bruce family. If you want to be fair there were other black families that owned property. Also 25 parcels out of the 30 were owned by whites whom you do not seem to care about at all. These parcels were taken through eminent domain. Please do your homework. Most of the residents were not even living here 100 years ago. Many of us were not even in this country that long ago. I am very disappointed in your statements and condemnation of Manhattan Beach as I am now a resident.
  • Jan Jan
    commented 2021-03-14 21:04:11 -0700
    Just let it go! Leave it alone! What is done is done,… I see NO injustice, they got paid, “the land stayed empty for decades”, they have apark and a plaque in their honor, there is an empty green space dedicated to them. What more do the greeeeeeedy relatives want? More, more and more. Their lively hoods were not taken from them, they now had cash in hand to make a much wiser investment netting them the opportunity to double, triple, etc., their money. What an opportunity!
    Now here is a good question for you,… Who knows if the Bruces’ were even happy living in MB? Maybe they hated it, maybe they hated each other, maybe they were happy and finally had the cash to divorce each other. We don’t know! Nobody knows!!!

    Now here is a good question for you,… How much are we going to give to the native American Inians??? We stole all of their land and… are they claiming equal rights? It’salmost the same sinario,… ony the Indians aren’t stomping their feet, waving flags, breaking store front windows and saying,… Indian lives Matter,… we all matter!

    You wrote, “I think we can and should go further.” Janice, Please rewrite: I think we can and should NOT go further!!!

    Stopstirring the pot,…. it will not help YOU go further.

    Janice, I have worked on your campaigns,… all the way back to when your headquarters was at the now TJ’s on PCH n Crenshaw. On election day, you came in there wearing a beautiful pink suit, said a few hello’s, sat at the end of my table, picked up the phone and started making calls just like the rest of your volunteers. That was the morning your mother
    died :(

    That night at you victory celebration in San Pedro, you were jubulant on stage with your family. I was totally impressed with your strength and have the utmost respect for you. However, all good things come to an end,… can’t believe you want to get invovled with Manhattan Beach business from the 1900’s Please, please,… leave this alone,… no good will come from getting involved. (a RB resident since 1985)
  • Liz Odendahl
    published this page in Words from the Supervisor 2021-02-02 16:49:24 -0800