LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles County’s board of directors on Tuesday approved an amendment to the state grant deed clearing the way for the county, Bruce’s Beach – a stretch of Manhattan Beach shoreline that was removed by its black owners nearly a century ago – to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce.
What you need to know
- Willa and Charles Bruce bought their land for $ 1,225 in 1912
- They eventually added a few other parcels of land and created a beach resort for black residents who at the time had few opportunities to enjoy the California coastline
- The resort quickly became a target of the area’s white population, leading to vandalism, vehicle attacks on black visitors, and even an attack by the KKK. in 1920
- The public seizure of the property has long shaped the history of Manhattan Beach and has been the focus of attention in recent years
Supervisor Janice Hahn, who campaigned for the heirs to take control of property confiscated from Manhattan Beach by a significant domain, said the ball was now back in the county court.
She called the approval of the board of directors “a final step before we correct this historical injustice”.
Hahn also noted that due to the redistribution, she no longer represents Manhattan Beach, which is now in Supervisor Holly Mitchell’s second district.
“This is a very tangled web that we’re weaving,” said Mitchell. “I look forward to taking the baton and taking the lead to see what the next steps will be for the county.”
The board directed the county CEO in October to work with staff from the treasurer and tax authority to identify and screen potential applicants. The county must also work with the family to determine how ownership can be transferred in such a way that the inheritance tax burden on the descendants is reduced when they are taken into possession.
The state law gives the county the leeway to handle the transfer, but it states that this is in the best interests of the county and the general public.
Hahn said she hoped the Bruce’s Beach broadcast would serve as an example to others.
“We will be a role model for the country when it comes to correcting an injustice, even if it is 100 years old,” said Hahn. “I hope we will spend the next 100 years in this country exploring every possible opportunity we have to tell the truth and then to reconcile, improve and heal.”
The public confiscation of the property has long shaped the history of Manhattan Beach and has been the focus of a nationwide reckoning with racial injustice in recent years.
Los Angeles resident and black surfer Jessa Williams told the board in October that it was going to be about a lot more than just that particular piece of land.
“The average white family has ten times the wealth of the average black family, and white college graduates have seven times more wealth than black college graduates,” said Williams. “No personal responsibility, hard work, or bootstrapping can fill that wealth gap, and this story paints a picture of how and why we are here.”
Williams’ statements are supported by research by the Brookings Institution.
“More than just beachfront property has been taken, generations of opportunities have been stolen,” she told the board.
Willa and Charles Bruce bought their land for $ 1,225 in 1912. They eventually added a few other parcels of land and created a beach resort for black residents who at the time had few opportunities to enjoy the California coastline.
The resort, with a bathhouse, dance hall, and café, attracted other black families who bought adjacent land and hoped for a seaside retreat.
But the resort quickly became a target of the area’s white population, leading to vandalism, vehicle attacks on black visitors, and even a 1920 attack by the Ku Klux Klan.
The Bruces were not deterred by this and continued to operate their small enclave, but under increasing pressure the city abandoned their property and the surrounding parcels in 1924 and confiscated a significant area under the pretext of wanting to build a city park.
The resort was put out of business, and the Bruces and other black families eventually lost their land in 1929.
The families complained, claiming they were victims of a racially motivated deportation. The Bruces were eventually awarded damages, as were other displaced families. But the Bruces had nowhere to reopen their resort in town.
Although the city claimed the land was needed for a park, the property stood empty for decades. It was not until 1960 that a park was created on part of the confiscated land, and city authorities feared the displaced families could take legal action if the property was not used for the confiscated purpose.
The exact land that Bruces owned was transferred to the state and then to the county in 1995.
The city park, which is now on part of the land seized by the city, has had different names over the years. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the city agreed to rename the park “Bruce’s Beach” in honor of the displaced family, which critics ridiculed as a hollow gesture.