Manhattan Beach to Present Bruce's Beach History, Community Awaits Historians' VoicesHistorians in the News
tags: segregation, African American history, California, beaches, recreation
Manhattan Beach staffers will deliver a presentation of historical facts surrounding the city’s Bruce’s Beach Park at next week’s City Council meeting, but it will lack the presence of experts that officials had initially planned on and that some in the community had looked forward to.
The city had been trying to include those voices. But confirming exactly who would present information, as well as the breadth of the conversation, has forced officials to continually push back the date for the dialogue.
And now, the Tuesday, Aug. 18, meeting will include a staff presentation only.
The reason, it appears, centers on a dispute between the city and one of its originally scheduled speakers, historian and writer Alison Rose Jefferson. Jefferson — the author of “Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era,” which includes a chapter dedicated to Bruce’s Beach — initially agreed to speak at a council meeting.
But talks — largely between Jefferson and Councilmember Nancy Hersman — about which educational materials the city would provide the community broke down late last month. Jefferson ultimately nixed her appearance. And what followed were rumors that the city never reached out to the historian, and Hersman and Jefferson offering different versions of why the latter backed out.
Those differing accounts, as well as the rumors, come — much like the renewed spotlight on Bruce’s Beach — amid a national civil rights movement, which includes ongoing, often uncomfortable conversations about who gets to tell the stories of the Black community and the generations of systemic racism Black people have faced.
“This is a bigger thing than me,” Jefferson said, “than all of us.
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