The land the Bruce family bought for less than $2,000 could be worth up to $75 million today.

By Adrienne Alpert

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — A beachfront property in Manhattan Beach that was seized from a Black family 97 years ago may be returned to the family’s descendants.

MANHATTAN BEACH, CALIFORNIA – JULY 04: An aerial view of the closed and deserted beach on Independence Day afternoon amid the COVID-19 pandemic on July 4, 2020 in Manhattan Beach, California. Los Angeles County beaches and piers including Manhattan Beach are closed through the July 4th holiday weekend amid reinstated restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In 1924, the city of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain to force Willa and Charles Bruce off their land where they lived and ran a resort for Black families. The Bruces were among the first Black landowners in the city.

The story of racial injustice shocked L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn and now she’s exploring what can be done to right the wrong.

“I’m considering, first of all, giving the property back to the Bruce family,” Hahn tells Eyewitness News.

“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.”

The beach on Highland Avenue at 27th Street was a resort for Black families who came to enjoy the beach until it was taken away. Anthony Bruce, one of the family’s last living direct descendants of the family, says the seizure robbed him of his family’s legacy.

“It was a wrong against the Bruce family,” says Anthony Bruce. “I think we would be wealthy Americans still living there in California… Manhattan Beach probably.”

Manhattan Beach resident Kavon Ward has been petitioning and raising awareness about the history of Bruce’s Beach.

“They need to pay for the stripping of generational wealth,” says Kavon Ward. “This family could have been wealthy, they could have passed on wealth to other family members. Manhattan Beach could have been more culturally diverse… there would have been more black people here.”

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