After California moves to return Bruce's Beach to Black family, a push to recover other seized land

October 01, 2021

LOS ANGELES — With the flick of a pen Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom codified the return of prime beachfront property in Southern California to the descendants of a Black couple who were stripped of their land and driven out by the Ku Klux Klan nearly 100 years ago.

California lawmakers this month unanimously passed a law to allow the return of what was once a thriving coastal resort that catered to Black residents when racial segregation barred them from many beaches.

What is known as Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles County was purchased in 1912 by Willa and Charles Bruce, who built a lodge, a cafe, a dance hall and dressing tents with bathing suits for rent on land that now houses the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Training Center.

Invoking eminent domain, Manhattan Beach officials seized the land from the Bruces in 1924.

"This country always likes to say: 'You can make it. Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps,'" said Kavon Ward, who founded an advocacy organization called Justice for Bruce's Beach last year. "These people were doing that, and they were building community and spreading the wealth within the community and enhancing other Black people, and it was all stripped away."

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