A California beach will be returned to the descendants of a Black couple, nearly 100 years after it was seized amid racial harassment.
Back in 1912, Willa and Charles Bruce purchased the land for $1,225, with hopes of creating a safe vacation space for Black people in an era when segregation prohibited them from the majority of beaches.
Bruce’s Beach, in the city of Manhattan Beach, was equipped with a lodge, cafe, dance hall and dressing tents with bathing suits available to rent. However, the first resort area for Black people on the west coast wasn’t meant to be, as it was quickly targeted and eventually taken away.
‘Bruce’s Beach became a place where Black families travelled from far and wide to be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of a day at the beach,’ Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn earlier said, NBC News reports.
The Ku Klux Klan tried to burn the resort down, while other racist neighbours put up signs alleging people could only park at the beach for 10 minutes, with visitors finding their tires had been deflated and others being abused.
Just 12 years after they’d bought it, the land was seized by eminent domain to use for a park. It was later transferred to the state of California, before coming into the ownership of Los Angeles County in 1995.
Now, lawmakers have unanimously voted on giving the land back to the couple’s family. ‘I’m ecstatic. I never would have fathomed that this would have happened so quickly. I was prepared to fight for years if not decades,’ Kavon Ward, who helped launch the campaign, said.
‘They are setting precedent for policies to be changed, antiquated policies that are creating barriers for people to seek restitution.’
Democratic Senator Steven Bradford said the bill will ‘finally do the right thing, to undo a wrong committed by the city of Manhattan Beach and aided by the state and the county’ and ‘represents economic and historic justice and is a model of what reparations can truly look like’.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]