Story at a glance

  • Willa and Charles Bruce were forced off their land through eminent domain where they lived and operated a resort for Black Americans when beaches were segregated.
  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is weighing options to compensate the Bruce family.
  • They were among the city’s first Black landowners.

Los Angeles County is considering options to compensate the descendants of a Black family who had their beachfront property seized from them close to one hundred years ago, according to KABC

The city of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain to force Willa and Charles Bruce off their land in 1924, where they lived and operated a resort for Black Americans during a time when beaches in the city were still segregated. 


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They were among the city’s first Black landowners. According to KABC, the land the family bought for less than $2,000 could be worth up to $75 million. 

Los Angeles County currently owns the land where its lifeguard headquarters and training center are currently located. 

But now county supervisor Janice Hahn is weighing options to make things right with the Bruce family. 

“I’m considering, first of all, giving the property back to the Bruce family,” Hahn told KABC. “I think that would be the one act that would really be justice for that family. I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong.” 

Hahn says the county is also considering paying reparations or leasing the property from the family so the lifeguard center can stay at the location. 

The Manhattan Beach city task force is also recommending the city council issue a formal apology and create a commemorative plaque to acknowledge the Bruce family. 

“It was a wrong against the Bruce family,” Anthony Bruce, one of the family’s last living direct descendants, told KABC. “I think we would be wealthy Americans still living there in California...Manhattan Beach probably.” 


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Published on Mar 08, 2021