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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs SB 796 authorizing the return of beach-front land to the Bruce family, in Manhattan Beach, CA

Source: Jay L. Clendenin / Getty

In 2021, Los Angeles County returned prime beachfront property back to the descendants of the Black couple who purchased the land back in 1912 only to have it unlawfully seized by the city of Manhattan Beach through white supremacy, or as they called it at the time, “eminent domain.”

Now, the owners of Bruce’s Beach, named for Willa and Charles Bruce, will sell the property back to the county in exchange for $20 million in what LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn considers to be “reparations.”

From Reuters:

The Bruce family has informed county officials that they have decided to sell Bruce’s Beach to the county for the estimated value of the Manhattan Beach property, Janice Hahn, chairperson of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, said in a tweet on Tuesday.

“This fight has always been about what is best for the family, and they feel what is best for them is selling this property and finally rebuilding the generational wealth they were denied for nearly a century,” Hahn wrote.

In July, county officials transferred the deed to the 7,000 square feet (650 square meters) property to the great-grandsons of Willa and Charles Bruce, who owned the land before officials claimed eminent domain over it in 1924.

The movement to return the land to the family was part of a wave of reparative justice that has gained traction in parts of the United States to make amends for decades of exploitation of Black Americans by predatory developers, exacerbated by segregation and a lack of access to the legal system.

Bruce’s Beach Was A Resort For Black People

Before the land was taken from Willa and Charles by white people who hated Black joy, Black neighbors and Black property ownership as much as they hated the prospect of minding their own business, Bruce’s Beach was a resort where Black people lounge, dance, enjoy the beach without some establishment owner pointing one finger at the “whites only” sign and another at the gun on his hip he’d use to enforce the discriminatory policy. It was a rare thing of luxury that was afforded to Black people exclusively.

Now, the Bruce family descendants say allowing the county to re-purchase the property is another step toward restorative justice, according to Hahn.

“They feel what is best for them is selling this property back to the county for nearly $20 million and finally rebuilding the generational wealth they were denied for nearly a century,” Hahn said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “This is what reparations look like and it is a model that I hope governments across the country will follow.”

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