Officials in Los Angeles County have finally decided to return a beach property worth millions to a Black family nearly 100 years after it was grabbed by the government.
In the 1920s, Charles and Willa Bruce owned a beach resort that welcomed Black visitors who were not permitted on the city’s white beaches in Manhattan Beach, now an upscale city near the southern end of Santa Monica Bay. The property became known as Bruce’s Beach.
Now, the descendants of the Bruce family are set to receive the land that could be worth up to $75 million.
The decision came after years of fighting by the Bruce family.
“It was a very important place because there was no other place along the coast of California where African Americans could actually go and enjoy the water,” said Chief Duane Yellow Feather Shepard, the Bruce family historian and spokesperson, in an Insider interview.
Despite intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan and white residents, the Bruce family kept the resort open. But in 1924 the city council used tricknology to grab the land from the couple. The city cited eminent domain as a reason to take the land under the guise of building a park. However, the land remained untouched for years.
The land is worth approximately $75 million, city officials told CNN.
California State Sen. Steven Bradford is being credited with helping to push through the city council decision to return the land. “Respect to @SteveBradford on pushing CA SB796 for the return of #BrucesBeach to the Bruce Family! Time stamp 51:00 Tulsa and Reparations all came up in this Senate Session June 2nd, 2021” FridayJones @IAMFriday tweeted.
“We are on an important road to set a precedent that could be replicated across the country as we work to put actions behind our commitment to an anti-racist agenda and anti-racist county,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Holly Mitchell told KTLA. “We cannot achieve racial equity until we confront our past and make it right.”
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In 2007, a plaque was placed on the land to acknowledge the Bruces, but it contained “misinformation,” Shepard said. The plaque credits Gregory Peck, a white landowner, and not the Bruces for making “it possible” for the beachfront property to be open to “all people.”