Los Angeles County returns $75 million land to Black family
By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior
Nearly a century after the government allegedly used trickery and eminent domain to seize their valuable property, the family of Charles and Willa Bruce are finally receiving justice.
Officials in Los Angeles County reportedly have decided to return the family’s Manhattan Beach property that estimates show might be worth as much as $75 million.
The beach resort once flourished while welcoming African American visitors in the 1920s – a time when Black people and other minorities weren’t allowed on White beaches.
The property famously took on the name “Bruce’s Beach.” Meanwhile, descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce had fought for years to have the land returned to the family.
“It was a very important place because there was no other place along the coast of California where African Americans could actually go and enjoy the water,” Chief Duane Yellow Feather Shepard, the Bruce family historian, and spokesperson said in an interview.
Regularly facing threats and intimidation tactics from the Ku Klux Klan and other White supremacists, the Bruce family maintained their property and kept the resort open.
But in 1924, the city council cited eminent domain as a reason to take the land, reportedly under the guise of building a park.
“However, the land remained untouched for years,” the Insider reported.
According to media reports, Willa and Charles Bruce fought back legally but received only $14,000 in compensation.
Now, city officials have placed the value of the property at $75 million.
“When I first realized that the county-owned the property that was once Willa and Charles Bruce’s Beach Lodge, I knew that returning it to the Bruce family was the right thing to do,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn told CBS Los Angeles. “But this is the first time a government has done anything like this, and there were a lot of questions about how it would work.”
For the family and Shepard, there remains more work.
“Our next step will be, once we get that land restored to us, is to go after them for the restitution, for the loss of revenue for 96 years of our family from the business, the loss of generational wealth, and the punitive damages for their collusion with the Ku Klux Klan in disenfranchising our family,” Shepard said.