Bruce’s Beach, a Manhattan Beach property previously owned by a black couple, has officially been transferred to their descendants.
In July of 2021, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to return the land that was seized from the Bruce family by eminent domain in the 1920s.
On Wednesday, a ceremony was held on the property, with Bruce family members, supporters and Supervisors Janice Hahn and Holly Mitchell on hand.
“Today we are celebrating the final step in the return of Bruce’s Beach to the legal heirs of two visionary entrepreneurs, Willa and Charles Bruce,” Supervisor Mitchell said during the ceremony.
After the Supervisors voted to return the beach to the family, the county was tasked with tracking down the family.
That is where they found the Bruces’ great grandsons Anthony and Derrick Bruce, as well as other extended family members.
One of those extended family members was Chief Duane “Yellow Feather” Shepard, who has gathered family members for protests and rallies since 2018.
“They’re here and they’re smiling,” Shepard said during the ceremony. “My family declared that this was sacred land, I was going to do everything I could to get it back… to the family.”
Supervisor Hahn became a leading force within the county after hearing about a 2020 protest of Bruce’s Beach, and taking time to learn more about the history of the area.
“I always tell people that I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know the story of Bruce’s Beach for most of my life,” Hahn said. “… I didn’t learn about what had happened to Willa and Charles Bruce until 2020 when I heard about a protest taking place at the park up the street.”
That same year, there was a Change.org petition not just asking for the land to be returned, but for the display plaque at the park to show a historically accurate description of how the Bruce’s lost their land, as well as mention of harassment of Black visitors by the Ku Klux Klan.
From 1912 to 1924, Bruce’s Beach was a popular resort destination for Black Angelenos as the beachfront property often hosted live music, Black celebrity appearances and family parties.
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