Historic beachfront property returned to Black family 100 years after foreclosure

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A beachfront property that was taken from a black family in California will be returned after nearly a century.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) On Thursday signed a bill that will allow the return of ownership of Manhattan Beach property to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce, and apologized for the way the land has seized by the state in a ceremony on the property Thursday. Newsom signed the measure in the presence of half a dozen descendants of the couple.


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“There are other families who are waiting for this very day for their land to be returned to them,” said Patricia Bruce, a cousin of Willa and Charles Bruce. The Associated Press.

The couple bought the land in Manhattan Beach in 1912 and ran a lodge, cafe, and dance hall that provided a way for local black families to enjoy their weekends on the coast during a period of strict racial segregation. The area was referred to by locals as Bruce’s Beach and other black families were also brought in there.

However, the property was seized in the 1920s by Manhattan Beach City Council through a prominent domain – a government’s right to expropriate private property for public use.

The council reportedly wanted to use the land for a public park, but it remained unused until 1948, when it was transferred to the state, according to to the keeper.

Since the death of George Floyd, protesters in Manhattan Beach have demanded justice for Bruce’s Beach, going so far as to erect a gravestone with the inscription “Bruce’s Beach” to spread the message, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“Bruce’s Beach has been an injustice in the history of our city,” Gary McAulay, president of the Manhattan Beach Historical Society, told the Los Angeles Times last year. “The facts are quite tragic, but in the 100 years since then, the facts have often been corrupted in the narrative. “

Manhattan Beach, according to The Associated Press, has a black population of around 8%, with whites making up almost the remaining majority.

Anthony Bruce, a 38-year-old great-great-grandson of the Bruces, told the keeper the return of ownership “a long overdue calculation”.

“For me and the following generations, it would mean a legacy – and this inner security of knowing that I come from somewhere, that I come from a people.”


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