The “Bruce’s Beach”

Against the Current, No. 220, September/October 2022

Malik Miah

LOS ANGELES COUNTY officials have presented the deed to prime Manhattan Beach oceanfront property to the heirs of a Black couple who built a “Bruce’s Beach” resort for African Americans, but were stripped of the land nearly a century ago. The Associated Press reported that the handover “marked the final step in a complex effort to address the long-ago wrong suffered by Charles and Willa Bruce.”

The couple purchased the land in 1912 but “suffered racist harassment from white neighbors, and in the 1920s, the Manhattan Beach City Council condemned the property and took the land through eminent domain. The city, however, did nothing with the property, and it was transferred to the state of California in 1948.”

“Against the backdrop of waves washing onto the sunny Manhattan Beach shoreline, county Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan handed a certified copy of the land transfer to Anthony Bruce, a great-great-grandson of the Bruces.”

A state bill was needed for the county to transfer the land to the heirs. State Sen. Steven Bradford, who authored the bill, “said it will not reverse the injustice. ‘But it represents a bold step in the right direction,’ he said. ‘It represents a template for other states to follow.’”

The property is to be leased back to the county for 24 months, with an annual rent of $413,000 plus all operation and maintenance costs, and the county’s right to purchase the land for up to $20 million.

September-October 2022, ATC 220

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