LA County may return a beachfront property seized from a Black family nearly 100 years ago that could be worth $75 million

Taylor Ardrey-Sun, March 7, 2021, 4:49 PM

  • LA County is considering returning a beachfront property that was seized nearly 100 years ago.
  • The property was taken away from the Bruce family in 1924, according to¬†KABC-TV.
  • Willia and Charles Bruce were reportedly the first Black landowners in Manhattan Beach, California.

LA County is considering returning a beachfront property to the descendants of its original owners who were the first Black landowners in Manhattan Beach, California.

As KABC-TV reported, Willia and Charles Bruce’s property was taken away when the city council used eminent domain in 1924. According to the outlet, the couple’s property, which is now a lifeguard building, served as a beach resort for Black families at the time amid racial tension and discrimination.

“The property that was once the Bruce’s is now owned by the County, and I want LA County to be part of righting this wrong,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement, NBC Los Angeles reported. “I am looking at everything from repurposing the property in a way that tells the history of Bruce’s Beach to actually giving the property back to the descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce.”

According to NBC Los Angeles, the city eventually gave the family a small settlement for their property. The land could now be worth about $75 million, KABC-TV reported.

The Bruce family’s living descendant denounced the city seizing the property nearly 100 years ago.

“It was a wrong against the Bruce family,” Anthony Bruce told KABC-TV. “I think we would be wealthy Americans still living there in California… Manhattan Beach, probably.”

Residents like Kavon Ward agree that the family could have been wealthy if they still owned the property.

“They need to pay for the stripping of generational wealth,” Ward, who is petitioning and calling for “Justice for Bruce’s Beach,” told KABC-TV. “This family could have been wealthy, they could have passed on wealth to other family members. Manhattan Beach could have been more culturally diverse… there would have been more black people here.”According to the United States Census Bureau, Manhattan Beach is a predominately white city.

According to KABC-TV, a task force is set to send the city council recommendations, including apologizing to the family as well as a way to recognize them with a plaque for their contributions to Manhattan Beach.

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