A piece of prime Southern California beachfront property was returned to the descendants of black owners Tuesday, nearly a century after it was taken over by the city of Manhattan Beach.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to give the land back to the family of the owners, Charles and Willa Bruce.
Known as Bruce Beach, the resort provided Black families with a place to enjoy California life and a labor of love. They bought the land in 1912 for $1,225 and built several facilities, including a coffee shop and changing rooms.
But harassment from White neighbors and the Ku Klux Klan tore their dreams apart.
The final blow came in 1924 when the city took the property through famous territory and paid the couple a fraction of what they asked for. The city wants land for a park.
The property – now estimated at $20 million – was moved to Los Angeles County in 1995. The homes right next to the property cost about $7 million each.
Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation allowing the county to return beachfront property to their descendants.
The new law was introduced by Senator Steve Bradford, who is part of the state’s newly created compensation task force.
“This is a form of compensation, emphasizing that the county is not giving anything to the Bruce family, but simply returning their stolen property,” Bradford said.
Tuesday’s vote completed the proposal presented by Holly Mitchell, chair of the county’s supervisory board, to return the land that is now a park with lawns and lifeguard training facilities. . “We’re not giving this land back; we’re giving it back to its rightful owners,” Mitchell said, calling it “a historic moment for our county.”
The vote outlines a plan to release the beachfront property to the Bruce family. County officials will lease the property from Bruces on a 24-month lease totaling $413,000 per year to maintain the facility.
“All the horror that remains in our hearts regarding the crimes committed against the innocents of our family, it is important for everyone to understand, more than the amount of money lost. We have lost our family to this,” family spokeswoman Duane Yellow Feather Shepard told CNN’s Stephanie Elam.
“This is a step towards justice,” he added.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who worked with Mitchell, held back tears as she told the board, “This is going to be one of the most important things I’ve ever done.”
This decision is the result of a two-year effort by the grassroots movement, Justice for Bruce’s Beach.
Kavon Ward, founder of Justice for Bruce’s Beach, told CNN Tuesday’s decision was to fulfill her dream to see the land returned.
“I feel a little bit of peace. I feel happy. I feel honored that the highest people will use me as a vessel to help this happen, to be the catalyst for this to happen. “, she said.