LA County Wants to Right 'Terrible Wrong' Done to Black Family in 1924

Family was forced to give up beachfront land
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 8, 2021 1:27 PM CST
LA County Wants to Right 'Terrible Wrong' Done to Black Family in 1924
"I'm considering, first of all, giving the property back to the Bruce family," says County Supervisor Janice.   (Getty Images/trekandshoot)

Los Angeles county officials may return a beachfront property that was seized from a Black family nearly a century ago. Manhattan Beach used eminent domain in 1924 to force Willa and Charles Bruce, the city's first Black landowners, off the land where they lived. The couple also ran a resort for Black families during a time when beaches in the strand were segregated. Part of the land was developed into a city park. It is now owned by Los Angeles County and houses the county's lifeguard headquarters and training center. County Supervisor Janice Hahn said she's exploring options to restore justice for the family, including giving the land back, paying for what they lost, or leasing the property from them so the lifeguard building can remain at the location, the AP reports.

“I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong,” Hahn tells KABC. Meanwhile, a Manhattan Beach city task force is recommending that the City Council consider issuing an apology and creating a commemorative plaque to acknowledge the Bruce family. The land that the family bought is now worth an estimated $75 million. Anthony Bruce, one of the family’s last living direct descendants, says the seizure robbed him of his family’s legacy. “It was a wrong against the Bruce family,” says Bruce, who lives in Florida. "I think we would be wealthy Americans still living there in California ... Manhattan Beach probably."

(More California stories.)

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