A California beach that had been taken from Black owners during the Jim Crow era, before being returned to their descendants last year, will be sold back to Los Angeles County for upwards of $20 million.
On Tuesday, county officials confirmed that family members of the original landowners, Willa and Charles Bruce, have informed the county of their decision to sell Bruce’s Beach, according to CNN. However, it’s still unclear when the sale will be completed.
“An Injustice Inflicted… On Generations Of Their Descendants Who Almost Certainly Would Have Been Millionaires”
“The seizure of Bruce’s Beach nearly a century ago was an injustice inflicted upon not just Willa and Charles Bruce but generations of their descendants who almost certainly would have been millionaires,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn said in a statement.
The Bruce family had previously received the official deed to the oceanfront property last year, after it was taken by the city of Manhattan Beach following efforts from relatives, local officials and activists.
‘Reparations’: Bruce’s Beach Being Sold Back To L.A. County That Seized It From Black Family 99 Years Ago: A year after a Black family won back the Bruce's Beach property previously owned by their ancestors, they're selling the land for $20 million.
… https://t.co/6fSDXctvRi pic.twitter.com/yMDtdHEfg8
— Marcus Evans 📚 ⚛️ 🔭 ⚖️ 💙 🎼 🏅 (@MarcuswevansSr) January 4, 2023
The land was purchased by Willa and Charles Bruce 1912 for $1,225, and the couple eventually built several facilities on the property, including a cafe and changing rooms.
The resort ended up becoming a popular tourist attraction for Black families, however the Bruce’s were treated by White neighbors and the Ku Klux Klan, the outlet reports.
Property Seized In 1924 By Manhattan Beach Citing Eminent Domain
And just 12-years later in 1924, Manhattan Beach took ownership of the property, paying the Bruce’s a paltry sum when compared to the land’s worth, while citing eminent domain.
Eminent domain is the process by which the government may seize private property with proper compensation, but without the owner’s consent.
The Bruces ultimately left the property and died just five years later.
— Alaturka News (@alaturkanews) January 3, 2023
The beach was since turned into a park, complete with a lifeguard training facility.
Then in 1995, the property was transferred to Los Angeles County, beginning the process that would eventually lead to county officials returning the land to the family.
“This Is What Reparations Look Like” L.A. County Board Of Supervisors Chair Says
In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom championed those efforts and signed legislation to allow for the return of the property to Bruce’s descendants.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn too said she fought hard to return the land to the Bruce family, because she “wanted to right this wrong,” and added “this is what reparations look like,” according to CNN.
“This is what reparations look like and it is a model I hope governments across the country will follow,” Hahn said in the statement.
Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach was stripped away from a Black family nearly a century ago under false pretenses. The family's descendants won a lengthy legal battle to reclaim the land and are now selling the property back to L.A. County for $20 million. https://t.co/YZyQZ5ekQS pic.twitter.com/tQZF8cOpHV
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) January 3, 2023