MANHATTAN BEACH, CA — Local university students are heading to Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach Friday to see the park, the plaque and learn the history of the site. The activity is designed to "link academic content to real world experiences outside of the classroom," said Carlos Royal, associate professor of sociology at Marymount California University in Rancho Palos Verdes, whose "Race, Class, and Gender [RCG]" course recently studied the history of Bruce's Beach. "This excursion is an extension of that," he told Manhattan Beach Patch.
The event is co-sponsored by MCU’s Black Student Union and one of MCU’s academic societies, the Veritas Society, an academic society for Multidisciplinary Studies majors. Royal is the advisor to the Veritas Society and BSU. Thanks to COVID-19, MSU students have been studying virtually, said Royal, and one of the “wants” of the BSU members was to have increased fellowship between the members. Los Angeles County guidelines allow for the students to meet in small groups, he noted.
"Members of BSU learned about Bruce’s Beach from me at one of their meetings and they jumped at the opportunity to visit there in person," he said. "It reached the dual goal of learning about a part of Black history in the larger Los Angeles area and getting to meet each other in person."
The event is also an extension of MCU’s weekly Diversity Talks, a weekly discussion sponsored by MCU’s Office of Student Life and led by MCU Resident Director Brian Kennedy. Attendees from these talks were invited to the Bruce's Beach activity, as well. Said Royal, "The Bruce’s Beach event will be the first time many of the attendees [of virtual school, virtual discussions, virtual student unions and virtual academic societies] will meet in person."
He noted, "The story of Bruce’s Beach gets at the heart of MCU’s mission and learning outcomes: a student-centered approach in giving our students exposure to various perspectives and to take advantage of our location in Southern California and the South Bay to give our students real world experiences."
Royal is also a member of MCU’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, "which amongst other things, brings awareness and comprehension among MCU students of issues related to DEI," he said. "The Committee is made of faculty, staff and administrators at MCU.
Kristin Long with the Manhattan Beach Historical Society will be the primary speaker on the Bruce's Beach history. Manhattan Beach City Council member Hildy Stern and President/CEO of the MB Chamber of Commerce Kelly Stroman, whom Royal contacted to explore coordinating the event with city officials, will be on hand.
The student body at MCU ranges in age from 18-50s and includes Black, Hispanic, White and Asian students. "MCU has a large international student population," said Royal. "One of the Black attendees is from Jamaica," he noted.
Royal said some students know more about Bruce's Beach than others: "Students enrolled in the RCG class currently know the most [about the history of Bruce's Beach] via class lectures and discussions," he said. "All attendees were given access to the Los Angeles Times article on Bruce’s Beach. This week, attendees were also given access to a document from the Manhattan Beach Historical Society that details the history of Bruce’s Beach."
The group plans to be at Bruce's Beach Friday from about 12 noon-1:30 p.m., where they will eat lunch, and then explore Manhattan Beach for another 90 minutes.
"I teach another class at Marymount called 'Global City: Los Angeles'," said Royal. "The class does many excursions like this one. It’s not being offered this academic year. I am hoping to make Bruce’s Beach a mainstay in that course and look forward to many of these new connections being made."