GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion event, Bruce’s Beach was a beach resort in the city of Manhattan Beach, California, that was owned by and operated for African Americans.

GM – FBF – Today’s American Champion event, Bruce’s Beach was a beach resort in the city of Manhattan Beach, California, that was owned by and operated for African Americans. It provided the African American community with opportunities unavailable at other beach areas because of segregation.As a result of racial discrimination from disgruntled white neighbors, the property was seized using eminent domain proceedings in the 1920s and closed down. Some of the areas was eventually turned into a city park in the 1960s and renamed Bruce’s Beach in 2007.Today in our History – July 14, 2021 – Bruce Beach returned to the ancestors from which it was taken in 1924.While many historians credit George H. Peck (1856–1940), a wealthy developer and the founder of Manhattan Beach, for having “bucked” the practice of racial exclusion, Peck created barriers to deter Black out-of-town visitors to Bruce’s Beach. To reach the ocean, visitors had to walk an extra half mile around the property owned by Peck, who had lined it with security and “No Trespassing” signs.Willa and Charles Bruce bought a property in the strand area for $1,225 that was set aside from Henry Willard in 1912 and added on three lots. They established a resort and named it for Mrs. Bruce.The development included a bathhouse and dining house for blacks, whose access to public beaches was highly restricted. Aside from the blacks-only beach resort, Manhattan Beach was “an otherwise lily-white community” and blacks only had limited access to beaches; Mrs. Bruce’s initiative “defiantly transgressed these racial boundaries.” It was not the only beach attraction available to black people; there was also Peck’s Pier and pavilion on 34th Street, a section of Santa Monica State Beach referred to as the “Ink Well”, and the Pacific Beach Club in Orange County. As Los Angeles’s population increased and property values soared in the 1920s, black people in the area suffered from increased racial tension, before eminent domain proceedings started by the city forced the club to close down.In the 1920s, the resort was attacked by the Ku Klux Klan in an attempt to get the city to take back the land from the rightful owners, the Bruce family. Under the pretense of building a city park, the city of Manhattan Beach did take the land away from the Bruce family, and African Americans were run off the land. It was not until 2007, practically eighty years later, that this travesty was acknowledged by the city and the beach was renamed Bruce’s Beach.In the 1950s, city officials began to worry that family members might sue to regain their land unless it was used for the purpose for which it had been originally taken. In the 1960s, the property, which had been vacant for decades, was made into a city park first called Bayview Terrace Park, then Parque Culiacan; in 2006, the Manhattan Beach City Council decided to rename the park, “commemorating our community’s understanding that friendship, goodwill, and respect for all begins within our own boundaries and extends to the world community. All are welcome.” It was ceremoniously renamed in March 2007 during an event exhibiting “a deep tide of goodwill.”The park is on a slope overlooking the ocean and includes rolling grassy terraces with benches and small trees. It is located a few blocks from the beach, between 26th and 27th Street, and runs west from Highland Avenue to Manhattan Avenue.A beachfront property in Manhattan Beach that was seized from a Black family 97 years ago may be returned to the family’s descendants.In 1924, the city of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain to force Willa and Charles Bruce off their land where they lived and ran a resort for Black families. The Bruces were among the first Black landowners in the city.The land is now owned by Los Angeles County and houses the county’s lifeguard headquarters and training center.The story of racial injustice shocked L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn and now she’s exploring what can be done to right the wrong.”I’m considering, first of all, giving the property back to the Bruce family,” Hahn tells Eyewitness News. “I think that would be the one act that would really be justice for that family. I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong.”The beach on Highland Avenue at 27th Street was a resort for Black families who came to enjoy the beach until it was taken away. Anthony Bruce, one of the family’s last living direct descendants of the family, says the seizure robbed him of his family’s legacy.”It was a wrong against the Bruce family,” says Anthony Bruce. “I think we would be wealthy Americans still living there in California… Manhattan Beach probably.”Supervisor Hahn says there is also an option of leasing the property from the Bruce family so the county’s lifeguard building can remain at the location. Or the Bruce family could be paid reparations for what they lost.Manhattan Beach resident Kavon Ward has been petitioning and raising awareness about the history of Bruce’s Beach.”They need to pay for the stripping of generational wealth,” says Kavon Ward. “This family could have been wealthy, they could have passed on wealth to other family members. Manhattan Beach could have been more culturally diverse… there would have been more black people here.”Then there’s the matter of the beach itself. A Manhattan Beach city task force is sending the full City Council new recommendations, including a resolution of apology and creating a new commemorative plaque with wording that would prominently acknowledge the pioneering Bruce family instead of the original white landowner.Ward says the issue is far deeper than a plaque.”This task force and members of Manhattan Beach are living in this sort of bubble of white supremacy and white fragility and I feel like it’s time to penetrate that bubble,” says Ward. “It’s time for this bubble to be popped.”Hahn says the time may be right for the county to take action to correct history.”We are now in this country finally meeting this moment,” says Supervisor Hahn. “And there are a lot of talks about reparations, financial restitution being made to African Americans in this country.” Research more about this great American Champion Institution and make it with your babies. Make it a champion day!