California Returns Prime Beachfront to Black Heirs After Land Was Taken in 1924 From L.A. Couple
California has righted a historical wrong and returned prime beachfront in the state to its African-American heirs.
Nearly a century after their beach resort was wrongfully taken from two Black business owners, Willa and Charles Bruce, the California governor signed legislation that will enable Los Angeles County to return the beachfront property to their descendants.
Governor Gavin Newsom visited the Manhattan Beach property on September 30 to sign the law, championed by Senator Steven Bradford of nearby Gardena, with Bruce family members looking on. The measure, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, authorizes the county to immediately begin the process of transferring parcels of what was known as Bruce’s Beach, to the family’s descendants.
The Bruces purchased the property in 1912 and established a popular resort serving Black residents that was a fixture in the community. The Bruces endured years of racist harassment, however, and Manhattan Beach city officials ultimately seized their property through eminent domain in 1924, saying they needed it for a park.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to right the historical wrong by moving forward with a land transfer to the Bruce family in motions co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn and Supervisor Holly Mitchell.
“As we move to remedy this nearly century-old injustice, I thank the Bruce family, Senator Bradford, the Los Angeles County Supervisors and all those who fought to keep the legacy of this place alive and deliver this long overdue justice,” said Gov. Newsom.
“This bill passed the Legislature unanimously and with overwhelming community support. SB 796 shows us that it is never too late to address the injustices of the past,” said Senator Bradford. “The City of Manhattan Beach, County of Los Angeles, and the State of California owe a debt to the Bruce family.”