Bruce's Beach, California: Dispossessed black family regains land after 93 years

In 1929, on flimsy grounds, the city of Manhattan Beach expropriated the Bruce family in California.

Bruce's Beach, California: Dispossessed black family regains land after 93 years

In 1929, on flimsy grounds, the city of Manhattan Beach expropriated the Bruce family in California. A racist act, as it turns out. After almost 100 years, the descendants are now getting back the piece of beach known as "Bruce's Beach".

A beachfront lot in California whose black owners were dispossessed nearly 100 years ago is now being returned to their descendants. Los Angeles County Council ruled Tuesday that the property now known as Bruce's Beach should be given to the great-grandchildren of Charles and Willa Bruce. The expropriation in the 1920s was "a racist act".

Willa and Charles Bruce bought the 7,000 square feet of land in 1912. On it and on a number of adjoining lots, they built a hotel complex that became known as Bruce's Beach. The offer was aimed at black residents of the area who, under the impression of racial segregation at the time, had few opportunities to enjoy the California coast.

However, the facility soon became the target of vandalism and racist attacks. In 1924, the City of Manhattan Beach, under the pretense of wanting to build a city park there, initiated an eminence process - a "racially motivated maneuver to evict this thriving black business and its customers from the area," the borough council declared. In 1929 the Bruce family lost their land.

"The experience of Willa and Charles Bruce is an example of how anti-Black racism has reached critical proportions," the Los Angeles County Council said. Such systematic injustice has led to enormous social inequalities, from which black people have suffered massively to this day.

"We cannot change the past and we will never be able to right the wrongs done to Willa and Charles Bruce a century ago, but this is a start," said Council President Janice Hahn. The descendants of the Bruce family could now "begin to rebuild the generational prosperity that has been denied them".

On the property today there are facilities of the municipal beach authority. The Bruce family plans to lease the land to the city for $413,000 a year. She also has an option to sell it back to Los Angeles County after two years for a maximum price of $20 million.

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