Bruce’s Beach will return to descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce — nearly a century later

October 06, 2021

Manhattan Beach, CA - In 1912, Willa and Charles Bruce bought a parcel of land in Manhattan Beach. They operated a lodge, cafe, and dance hall on the property. It was a refuge for Black beachgoers to enjoy a weekend away. The area became known as Bruce’s Beach. 

But the couple were harassed and threatened by white neighbors and members of the Ku Klux Klan. By 1924, city officials condemned the property and forced the Bruces to sell and leave, robbing future members of the Bruce family of generational wealth from the land. 

Now the state is hoping to rectify that. Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 796, which would return the land to the direct descendants of Willa and Charles. 

Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) authored the bill and agrees. He’s hoping that the law sets an example for California and the nation about how the country has treated minorities in the past and what can be done about it.