Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Manhattan Beach Can't Figure Out How To Apologize For Its Racist Past

Cyclists in Manhattan Beach, California, December 12, 2020. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Nearly 100 years after the city of Manhattan Beach seized Bruce's Beach from its Black owners, the city still can't decide whether, or how to, apologize for the racism behind taking the land.

Charles and Willie Bruce, 1886. Courtesy of the California African American Museum.

Willie Anne Bruce and her husband, Charles Aaron Bruce, purchased a tract of land in Manhattan Beach from an L.A. real estate agent in 1912.

The beach became a popular destination for the Black community, according to a report made by the Manhattan Beach city council. That is until George Lindsay, a real estate agent, initiated a series of events leading to the "condemnation and seizure of property from Black families residing near the Bruces' lodge" in 1924.

Support for LAist comes from

Lindsay said he was serving the community by working toward a peaceful end to the "negro 'invasion'," the report says.

Ultimately the Manhattan Beach City Council voted to use eminent domain to take the property. They claimed they wanted to build a public park, but the land grab followed years of racist harassment stoked by the KKK.

The Bruce family sued the city for racial discrimination in 1924. The city eventually paid them a settlement, but it was much less than the value of the land.

The Manhattan Beach City Council formed a task force in October 2020 to create recommendations for the city to right the historical wrong... those recommendations included a formal apology.

But the city council decided Tuesday to punt the issue and instead, work on the wording. They also voted to disband the task force.

The city council did approve an art installation about the history of the beach, but Bruce family spokesman Duane Yellow Feather Shepard says the whole ordeal was a missed opportunity to restore "stolen" generational wealth:

"These people were the founders of Manhattan Beach. By losing [that land], we've lost money that could be used to incubate businesses for the family, we've lost student tuitions for college. The generational wealth has just been wiped out."

L.A. County now owns the land and they're mulling over how to return it to the Bruce family...or pay them for it in some way.

READ THE FULL TASK FORCE REPORT BELOW (It includes a 30-page history of Bruce's Beach):

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.