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  • Writer's pictureEd Gaines

Black-owned California beachfront seized a century ago could soon be returned to descendants

Los Angeles County plans to return prime beachfront property to descendants of a Black couple who built a seaside resort for African Americans but suffered racist harassment and were stripped of it by local city leaders a century ago, a county official said Friday. (AP)

Nearly 50 years ago, Willa and Charles Bruce moved to Manhattan Beach from New Mexico and Willa started the first Black woman-owned business in the city’s early days.

The couple, in 1915, started constructing a beach-side resort called Bruce’s Beach Lodge. In 1920, they bought another lot with a two-story building to add a dance hall and restaurant on what’s now Bruce’s Beach Park.

In 1924, the city revoked the Bruces’ property through eminent domain — a legal maneuver allowing the government to take private property for public use — to turn it into a park. The resort closed.

Janice Hahn Los Angeles County Supervisor serving the 4th District tweeted, "It's official — we are taking the first steps towards returning Bruce's Beach to the Bruce family. They had their property stolen from them and they would have been millionaires if they were allowed to keep it. This is the right thing to do."

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