Saturday, July 13, 2024

L.A. County Will Buy Back Bruce’s Beach for $20 Million

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Bruce’s Beach, the oceanfront property that was stolen from its Black Owners in 1924 and returned to its rightful descendants last July, is now to be sold back to Los Angeles County for a reported $20 million, CNN reports.

Descendants of the original owners—Willa and Charles Bruce—informed the county of their decision to sell the famous beach, though it’s unclear when the sale will be finalized.

“I’m proud of the work of Los Angeles County and the state in establishing a process to address systematic racist acts that have cost Black families generational wealth,” L.A. County Board Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell said in a statement. “I fully support the self-determination of Black people and families like the Bruce’s to decide what is best for their lives and legacy.”

Lois Bruce Johnson, a Bruce family descendant, views a plaque marking Bruce’s Beach on June 29, 2022 in Manhattan Beach, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Bruce family was given the deed last year, nearly a century after the property was taken by the city of Manhattan Beach.

Willa and Charles Bruce bought two lots on the Strand between 26th and 27th Streets from L.A. County for $1225 back in 1912, building a lodge, a small restaurant, and a dance hall that became a thriving vacation spot for Black families. The Bruces faced threats and intimidation from their white neighbors, including members of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1924 the City of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain to condemn and seize the resort, along with more than two dozen Black-owned homes that had sprung up around it, paying the Bruces just a fraction of the resort’s value.

Legislation allowing L.A. County to return the property to the original owners’ descendants was first drafted in April, 2021. Today, Bruce’s Beach is a park containing a lawn and lifeguard training facility.

Supervisor Janice Hahn spearheaded the effort to have the beach property returned to the family, and oversaw the ceremonial event in which the ownership was given back.

Hanh says she “wanted to right this wrong” and hopes that “governments across the country will follow.”

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