The descendants of two black entrepreneurs in California have re-inherited land previously owned by their ancestors Charles and Willa Bruce. The land was stolen from their family in California nearly 100 years old in 1924.
On Wednesday, Dean Logan, the county’s registrar-recorder, presented a certified copy of the land transfer for the Manhattan Beach land — where the Bruces once ran a thriving resort for Black travelers — to Anthony Bruce, a great-great-grandson of the Bruces, according to the Associated Press.
“This transfer will allow the Bruce family to realize generational wealth, which they have been denied for generations simply because they were black in America,” said State Sen. Steven Bradford, who authored the state bill that allowed the land to be transferred back to the Bruce family, per CNN.
“Nothing like this has ever been done before,” remarked Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, the outlet reported. “We can’t change the past and we will never be able to make up for the injustice that was done to your great, great grandparents and great grandparents, Willa and Charles nearly a century ago. But this is a start.”
Willa and Charles bought the land for $1,225 in 1912 and built a resort called Bruce’s Beach, according to the Los Angeles Times.
After they endured years of racist threats and harassment from their white neighbors and the Ku Klux Klan, city officials condemned the neighborhood in 1924, seizing dozens of properties through eminent domain. The city claimed that they took action out of an urgent need for a park, but the land sat vacant for several more decades.
The property was transferred to Los Angeles County in 1995, according to CNN and The Los Angeles Times.
Two years ago, after realizing the county owned Bruce’s Beach, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn took on the charge of returning the land to its rightful owners.
Last September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 796, which enabled Los Angeles County officials to immediately begin transferring the land to the family — with Wednesday’s ceremony marking the final step of the process.
“Thank you so much,” Anthony Bruce said at the ceremony, according to KABC-TV. “Without God, we
The family has since formed a company to hold the land, with the county leasing it from them for an annual rent of $413,000, according to the Associated Press.
The agreement also gives the county the right to purchase the land for $20 million at a later date, reported The Los Angeles Times.