Fighting for Leisure: African Americans, Beaches, and Civil Rights in Early 20th Century L.A.

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00001270-thumb-630x426-72604 Caption reads: “Verna and Sidney in the segregated section of Santa Monica beach known as the Ink Well.” | Shades of L.A. Collection, Los Angeles Public Library

“These people worked on the railroad, they saved their money, they put up a resort, and they lost everything,” lamented Bernard Bruce in 2007. “How would you feel if your family owned the Waldorf and they took it away from you.” Bruce, the grandson of former beach resort proprietors Charles and Willa Bruce, spoke to the Los Angeles Times after a contested Manhattan Beach city council vote of 3-2 confirmed the city’s official commemoration of his parents’ beach resort as a historic landmark. “There’s a kind of tension,” longtime resident and local historian Robert L. Brigham added, “between people who are very conscious of the history of Bruce’s and those who would rather forget about the whole thing.” 1

Indeed, the story of…

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