Nearly a century after a stretch of land in Manhattan Beach was taken from its Black owners, Willa and Charles Bruce, the city and county appear to be on the verge of finally giving it back to the couple's descendants.
Manhattan Beach in California is famous for its sun-kissed sand and magnificent scenery. But it’s marred by an ugly moment in history: a huge chunk of beachfront property was literally snatched from a Black family in 1927.
Charles and Willa Bruce bought the land and built a resort for Black people in 1912. Duane Shepard is a descendent of the Bruce family.
“They cordoned off the beach right in front of the resort so people could not get into the water,” Shepard told Inside Edition.
“There was harassment of the Bruces for starting their business,” Alison Rose Jefferson, author of the book, “Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era,” told Inside Edition.
In 1927, the city of Manhattan Beach took possession of the land and eventually built a lifeguard station. The prime beachfront property is now worth an estimated $75 million. And nearly 100 years after it was taken from the family, the city and county appear to be on the verge of finally giving it back.
Anthony Bruce, the 37-year-old great, great grandson of the Bruces, finds himself the principle heir to the $75 million fortune.
“The Bruces would be the rightful owner of our land,” Anthony said.
“This injustice against Willa and Charles Bruce weren’t just against them. It was against generations of Bruces who most certainly would have been millionaires by now,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn told Inside Edition.
City officials say current residents should not be blamed for what happened. They say the area is not at all like what it was a century ago.