California votes to return land seized from Black family 100 years ago

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California votes to return land seized from Black family 100 years ago

California lawmakers have unanimously voted to return prime beachfront land to the descendants of a black couple who were run out of town 100 years ago after racial harassment by the Ku Klux Klan and white neighbors.

A state Senate bill was passed late Thursday that will give Los Angeles County the authority to transfer the land at Manhattan Beach back to the family of Willa and Charles Bruce.

The bill is now being sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign so the transfer can be completed.

The Bruces bought the beachfront plot back in 1912 and built the first resort for black people on the West Coast at a time when segregation banned them from the majority of beaches.  

LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn first announced plans to return the land to the Bruce family back in April.
LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn first announced plans to return the land to the Bruce family back in April.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

It became known as Bruce’s Beach and included a lodge, café, dance hall and dressing tents.

The Bruces and their guests, however, quickly became targets of the KKK who tried to burn the resort down.

Their white neighbors also harassed the couple and customers by putting up fake 10 minute only parking signs and letting the air out of their tires.

The Bruces bought the beachfront plot back in 1912 and built the first resort for black people on the West Coast.
The Bruces bought the beachfront plot back in 1912 and built the first resort for black people on the West Coast.

In 1924, the city condemned the area and seized more than 20 properties through eminent domain. Officials justified the move by claiming there was an urgent need for a public park.

But the properties sat empty for decades until the land was transferred to the state in 1948 and then Los Angeles County in 1995.

The beachfront plot was eventually turned into a park and remains one today.

LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn first announced plans to return the land to the Bruce family back in April.

Council members in Manhattan Beach, a predominantly white neighborhood, condemned the property seizure.

Democratic Sen. Steven Bradford said the passing of the bill would “undo a wrong committed by the city of Manhattan Beach and aided by the state and the county.”

He added that it “represents economic and historic justice and is a model of what reparations can truly look like.”

With Post wires

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