The True Story Of How El Segundo Kept A Black Beach Resort From Being Built
Photo Credit: Dean Mitchell

Photo Credit: Dean Mitchell

The True Story Of How El Segundo Kept A Black Beach Resort From Being Built

los angeles , news
Bernadette Giacomazzo
Bernadette Giacomazzo Jul 12, 2021

El Segundo may be a popular beach resort town today, but like everything else in American history, it has a history steeped in racism.

The Los Angeles Times recently did an in-depth story about the history of the storied beachside community, and as it turns out, they spent the early part of the 20th century fighting against a historically Black beach — a beach which is today known as Dockweiler State Beach.

Titus Alexander, a well-known Black developer, was commissioned to build a beach resort for the community, and the community was outraged when they found out about their plans.

“Alexander envisioned opening a Black “amusement resort” on a coastal stretch near the southern tip of present-day Dockweiler State Beach, near the city of El Segundo,” reported The Times. “Alexander’s story has come to light as El Segundo reckons with its history of racism. In May, the city’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee recommended a review of El Segundo’s troubled past.”

And that’s just the first of many incidents that the beachside community has to reckon with.

“In 1924, officials in neighboring Manhattan Beach confiscated beachfront property where Willa Bruce had operated a popular hotel, restaurant, and dance hall for Black families. Manhattan Beach used eminent domain to condemn and seize more than two dozen properties, claiming an urgent need for a public park. Black families who lived around Bruce’s Beach were forced to scatter,” the story continues. “In 1926, the Black-owned Pacific Beach Club in Huntington Beach mysteriously burned to the ground on the eve of its opening.”

Unsurprisingly, the area saw a surge in KKK activity around this time, as well.

Today, while much has changed from 100 years ago, just as much remains the same. There are still racially motivated attacks in and around both El Segundo and Dockweiler State Beach. And while racism is no longer codified into law, we are now at what was once known as the “hearts and minds” stage of reform.