L.A. County Beach Worth Around $72M Could Soon Go Back to Black Descendants of Its Original Owners
Photo Credit: Instagram / @justiceforbrucesbeach

L.A. County Beach Worth Around $72M Could Soon Go Back to Black Descendants of Its Original Owners

The Bruce family could soon inherit the legacy that was stripped from them!

According to Because of Them We Can, Willa Bruce purchased two lots of land from a white land developer in 1912 for $1,225.

While her husband, Charles Bruce, worked as a chef on dining-cars for a train that ran between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, Willa ran a cafe, lodge, and dance hall for Black families to enjoy weekends at Manhattan Beach — the area was known as Bruce’s Beach.

During the time, more Black families began to enter the area either purchasing or building homes that overlooked the sea, ultimately creating a small community.

“They were pioneers,” said historian and author of the book “Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era,” Alison Rose Jefferson in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “They did what every other Californian was doing during that time.”

The Bruces and their neighbors weren’t even able to enjoy the fruits of their labor without harassment from whites thanks to the seaside community’s growing popularity.

From slashed tires to fake parking signs, and even attacks from the Ku Klux Klan, the community refused to fold.

Unfortunately, the city stepped in to truly break apart the community in 1924 by condemning the neighborhood and seizing more than two dozen properties through the use of eminent domain.

Despite it being the Bruce’s property, removing it with eminent domain is basically using the law to commit a crime. They were able to successfully do so because it is the government’s right to take private property for public use following fair compensation. However, the Bruces and other families received way less than the community was actually worth.

They decided to sue for racial discrimination and although they requested $120,000 in compensation, $70,000 for their two lots, and $50,000 in damages, they only received $14,500 after battling for years in court.

Today the land could be worth up to $72 million.

For descendant, Anthony Bruce, he says stripping away the land cost the family a legacy.

“It was a wrong against the Bruce family; I think we would all be wealthy Americans still living there in California…Manhattan Beach probably,” said Anthony in an interview.

Today, LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn is on a mission to fix the unethical treatment that stripped the Bruce’s property from them.

“I’m considering, first of all, giving the property back to the Bruce family,” said Hahn 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.”