Gov. Gavin Newsom Returns Bruce's Beach To Descendants Of Original Black Owners, Says Move Can Be Part Of 'Broader Reparations'
Photo Credit: Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG

Gov. Gavin Newsom Returns Bruce's Beach To Descendants Of Original Black Owners, Says Move Can Be Part Of 'Broader Reparations'

In March 2021, AfroTech reported that Bruce’s Beach could be going back to the descendants of its original Black owners. On Sept. 30, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California made that a reality.

According to Eyewitness News (via The Associated Press), the beachfront property in question was purchased by Willa and Charles Bruce back in 1912. The Bruces turned the property into the first beach resort for Black families. The resort — which included a lodge, a cafe, and even a dance hall — naturally faced threats and harassment from its white neighbors. There was even an attempt to burn down the resort.

Finally, in 1924, the city seized the property — citing eminent domain — and took the property from the Bruces.

The campaign to return Bruce’s Beach to the Bruce family — whose descendants include Anthony Bruce, who has been very vocal about the injustice committed against his family (and rightly so) — was spearheaded by LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

“I’m considering, first of all, giving the property back to the Bruce family,” Hahn said in an interview with KABC-TV. “I think that would be the one act that would really be justice for that family. I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong.”

Now, Newsom formally signed a law authorizing the transfer of Bruce’s Beach to Anthony Bruce and other legal descendants of the original owners. Before the property — which is located in Manhattan Beach, and has an estimated value of $72 million — can be formally transferred, all legal heirs of the Bruce family must be properly vetted and confirmed to have a stake in the property.

However, Newsom also condemned the actions of the 20th-century governments that displaced and disenfranchised the Bruces. (Hahn, for her part, said that the Bruces’ heirs would almost certainly be “millionaires” if the property hadn’t been stolen from them 100 years ago.) He also said that this was a form of reparations that can be replicated anywhere else…if the government so chose.

“This can be catalytic,” he said. “What we’re doing here today can be done and replicated anywhere else.”