California Seized Land From a Black Family 98 Years Ago. Officials Just Voted to Return It.

Bruce's Beach was a thriving resort community for Black families when the state took the land under the guise of eminent domain in 1924. It will now return to the Bruce family.

California Seized Land From a Black Family 98 Years Ago. Officials Just Voted to Return It.

By Curtis Bunn, NBC News

Ninety-eight years after California officials seized prime oceanfront land from a Black family that had built a thriving community there, a Los Angeles County commission voted Tuesday to return the property to the original owners’ family.

The descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce, who purchased the land for $1,225 in 1912 and built it into a seaside resort for Black families, will retake ownership of Bruce’s Beach in the city of Manhattan Beach. The land had been taken from them in 1924 under the guise of eminent domain.

“For us as a family, this had a wonderful beginning. And then it turned into a tragic story for my family,” Anthony Bruce, the great- great-grandson of the Bruces, told NBC News. “Back in the day, prejudice was rampant. And unfortunately my family was the victim of a hate crime and the prejudice that was around during those times.

“So, now that this is finally taking place, for us as a family, we are greatly relieved, and we are so thankful that this has made such an impact on our nation.”

The resort included a lodge, café, dance hall and dressing tents with bathing suits for rent on land that now houses the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Training Center. The family remained steadfast despite acts of vandalism of visitors’ vehicles and an attack by the Ku Klux Klan. When it was clear the Bruces would not give in, the city seized the property and condemned the surrounding areas, claiming it would build a park in the area.

It was left undeveloped for more than 30 years.

The agreement returns the land to Marcus and Derrick Bruce, Anthony Bruce’s parents and the great-grandsons of Willa and Charles. They said they intend to lease the land back to L.A. County at $413,000 a year so the county lifeguard facilities at the site can continue operation. Other terms in the agreement also dictate that the family can sell the property back to the county for no more than $20 million, which likely will take place, Anthony Bruce said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.