Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Jake Blucker
Manhattan Beach Will Host 2024 Juneteenth Celebrations
June 19th, or Juneteenth, is a special date for Black Americans, and we’ve celebrated it for generations. For Manhattan Beach, it will be extra special next year.
Following a city council vote, this formerly Black-owned area will host Juneteenth festivities. According to Black Enterprise, “The city council says that the Parks and Recreation Commission will plan events for Juneteenth at Bruce’s Beach.”
Bruce’s Beach, A Segment Of Manhattan Beach, Was Black-Owned
More than a century ago, Bruce’s Beach, a segment of Manhattan Beach, was Black-owned.
After relocating West during The Great Migration, Charles and Willa Bruce purchased the land. They transformed it into a seaside resort and called it Bruce’s Lodge. Over time, it earned the name Bruce’s Beach.
This special site was one of joy for Black people. Here, they could be themselves against the backdrop of sun, sea, and sand. However, in true racist fashion, this bothered nearby white residents to such an extent, that they chased the Black people out.
In 1924, white residents claimed they wanted to build a park, but their intentions were completely motivated by racism. Not only did the Manhattan Beach City Council acquiesce to the demands of the white residents, it actively worked to prevent the Bruces, or any other Black family, from purchasing property in the area.
It wasn’t until July 2022, that ownership of Bruce’s Beach was returned to the descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce.
The Hostility Shown To Black Residents Of Bruce’s Beach Wasn’t Unique
The most infamous example of the destruction of Black businesses and homes happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921, but Black residents of Bruce’s Beach experienced similar hostility.
According to The Los Angeles Times, “tires were slashed. The Ku Klux Klan purportedly set fire to a mattress under the main deck and torched a Black-owned home nearby. Fake ’10 minutes only’ parking signs were posted to deter Black out-of-town folk.”
The publication notes that the Pacific Beach Club in Huntington Beach, which was Black-owned, was burned the day before it was set to open.
The roadblocks keeping Black people from owning property was systemic racism in action. Because of certain laws, it was harder, if not impossible, for Black people to build generational wealth.
According to MB News, “council members agreed that if Manhattan Beach was to do an event, it should be done the right way. It should be spread across multiple places in the city, including Polliwog Park and Civic Center Plaza.”
Recently, Juneteenth Was Declared A Federal Holiday
In June 2021, President Biden signed Juneteenth into law, making it a federal holiday.
This prompted some Black people to rightly ask what took so long. They also point out that July 4th isn’t, and never has been, about Black emancipation. The ancestors of Black Americans were still enslaved in 1776.
What’s about to happen in Manhattan Beach is encouraging. There’s a necessary conversation to be had, however, about the true history of Bruce’s Beach. That history is just one example of how the U.S. has consistently undermined and mistreated Black people.
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