*Earlier this week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to return a stretch of beachfront land in Southern California to the descendants of a Black couple who purchased the land 97 years ago.
Here’s more from ABC News:
Willa and Charles Bruce purchased land on Manhattan Beach in 1912, making them among the first Black landowners in the city. But 12 years later they were forced off their property as it was seized by the city.
The Bruces bought the first of two ocean-view lots for $1,225, a property that could now be worth millions.
They built a resort known as Bruce’s Beach to serve Black residents, making it one of the few beaches Black residents could use due to segregation. The Bruces and their customers were harassed and threatened by their white neighbors, including the Ku Klux Klan, the county board of supervisors said in a news release.
The city of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain in 1924 to force the couple off their land. The property was seized in 1929 and remained vacant for decades.
“This was an opportunity for a leisure business to provide services to African Americans who wanted to come to the beach,” said Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson, a historian who has spent years researching the history of Black Americans in California beach towns. “They would be less harassed in this area because there was this African American business that could provide them with, you know, something to drink, or a place to change their clothes.”
Then jealous whites in the community started trying to run them out.
“So even while the business was successful, from day one, they were harassed with tactics to chase them out of the area,” Jefferson explained.
“The city said that it was taking this land– the eminent domain to build a park,” Jefferson said. “And the Bruces… and some of the other families… fought this effort, but they weren’t successful in the fight.”
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided the land will be returned to Willa and Charles’ descendants.
According to the report, “the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office will file a report within 60 days with a plan and timeline to return the property to the Bruce family,” writes ABC News.