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A Calif. Beach Was Seized From Black Owners In 1924. Now, The Family Will Get It Back

30September 2021

Flowers in support of the Bruce Family and George Floyd stand at Bruce’s Beach in April in Manhattan Beach, California.

Patrick T. Fallon /AFP via Getty Images

Patrick T. Fallon /AFP via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is scheduled to sign a bill Thursday allowing a plot of beachfront land along the Southern California coast to be returned to the descendants of a married Black couple who lost it to eminent domain nearly a century ago.

Bruce’s Beach, a once thriving resort for Black families owned by Willa and Charles Bruce, was seized by the town of Manhattan Beach in 1924 with the stated goal of building a park.

But historical records compiled in a recent report on the incident, which included a raft of complaints from white neighbors at the time, show that the land was condemned because its proprietors and patrons were Black.

Now, an effort is nearly complete to return the land, which is now owned by Los Angeles County, to the Bruce family’s descendants and make amends for its seizure during the Jim Crow era.

According to his public schedule, Newsom is slated to sign the bill enabling the return of Bruce’s Beach to the family at 12:00 p.m. PT in Los Angeles County.

Current state law requires Los Angeles County to use Bruce’s Beach for public recreation and prohibits the county from transferring it, but the bill would scrap those restrictions.

The California Legislature gave its final approval to the measure earlier this month.

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