Nearly a century ago, Charles Bruce and Willa Bruce were the owners of some of the most luxurious beachfront property in North America. Think about that! In the 1920s, two Black entrepreneurs owned what is now known as Manhattan Beach. Unfortunately, institutional racism and harassment from the Ku Klux Klan forced them off their property. Shortly thereafter, the county took ownership over the valuable real estate. Now, the Bruce family is closing in on a deal regain control over the property that Charles and Willa once called home.
Los Angeles County officials are closing in on a deal that would return the storied Manhattan Beachfront property to its rightful owners. Originally purchased for $1,225, the beachfront area is now worth approximately $75 million.
"The Bruces had their California dream stolen from them," county supervisor Janice Hahn said.
"Generations of their descendants...almost certainly would have been millionaires if they had been able to keep their property and their successful business."
Having support from Los Angeles County officials, a bill will be introduced to state legislators that would allow the county to transfer the land to the Bruce family. Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill into law without little opposition from state lawmakers. However, CNN reports that there could be pushback from those in the neighborhood that is less than 1% Black.
"I've been lucky enough to live in this beautiful spot for over 50 years," one neighbor told CNN.
"I've never been discriminated against by this community, but it hurts me that the people here are trying to spoil what we have here."
Regardless of pushback from neighbors or detractors, members of the Bruce family remained undeterred. For Charles and Willa's children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, reclaiming this property is part of their journey.
"We love it just as much as you do," Bruce family spokesperson Duane Shepard said.
"After the family was railroaded out of town, they lived in Los Angeles destitute and so therefore, these people who did this to my family need to rectify it by any means, including apologize."
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