An idyllic stretch of coastline in Manhattan Beach looks like the perfect place to soak in the sun, take a swim or catch a wave. But, despite the beauty, for some, the scenery represents a painful history.
In the early 1900s, Willa and Charles Bruce and their son Harvey, moved to California from New Mexico, part of a wave of Black Americans moving to the state to escape the violent hatred and racism that was going on in the South. Charles took a job as a chef on the Union Pacific train route between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, and Willa, well Willa had her sights set on the ocean.
In 1912, Willa and Charles purchased beachfront property between 26th and 27th street in what would eventually be known as Manhattan Beach. The price? $1,225.
According to California Beaches, the Bruce’s:
“…set to work, establishing a resort that was open to all African Americans. Given that segregation practices had restricted most beach access for blacks in the city, the new resort was welcomed by many who had until then hardly had the chance to experience the area’s coastal beauty.”
The resort became known as “Bruce’s Beach,” the first West Coast oceanfront property that was owned and serviced by Black residents and it became a popular destination for Black Americans.
But the success of Bruce’s Beach wasn’t embraced by everyone and it wasn’t long before some of the surrounding white population started trying to force them out. Local developers, residents, and members of the Ku Klux Klan began a campaign of harassment that included threats and acts of violence.
Through it all, the Bruce family refused to leave.
In 1924, that choice was taken from them when the land was seized by the city through eminent domain and the resort was shut down. After a years-long legal fight, the Bruce family left Manhattan Beach, never to return…until now.
KFI News’ Corbin Carson presents, “This Sand Is My Sand: The Stolen Legacy of Bruce’s Beach.”
Tune in Saturday, October 10th at 8pm on KFI-AM 640 or via the iHeartRadio app. (audio available here after it airs)
Credit: Source link