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LA county may return beachfront land seized from Black family a century ago

[Mar. 7, 2021: Associated Press in Los Angeles]

Los Angeles county officials may return a beachfront property that was seized from a Black family nearly a century ago.

Manhattan Beach used eminent domain in 1924 to force Willa and Charles Bruce, the city’s first Black landowners, off the land where they lived, KABC-TV reported on Friday. The Bruces also ran a resort for Black families during a time when beaches in the strand were segregated.

Part of the land was developed into a city park. It is now owned by Los Angeles county and houses lifeguard headquarters and a training center.

The county supervisor Janice Hahn said she was exploring options to restore justice for the family, including giving the land back, paying for what they lost or leasing the property from them so the lifeguard building can remain at the location.

“I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong,” Hahn told the station.


Meanwhile, a Manhattan Beach city taskforce is recommending that the city council consider issuing an apology and creating a commemorative plaque to acknowledge the Bruce family.

Anthony Bruce, one of the family’s last living direct descendants, now living in Florida, said the seizure robbed him of his family’s legacy.

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


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