After a lengthy legal process, the Bruce family was able to attain their family property in Manhattan Beach from the county of Los Angeles. In 2021 Gov Newsom signed a bill giving back Bruce Beach to Willa and Charles Bruce’s descendants. This marked a big day for the Bruce family. A long-awaited reparation.
“We’re elated,” said family member and spokesperson Chief Duane “Yellow Feather” Shepard. “We’re very happy about the outcome. The people of California have unanimously spoken. You know, they say that they’re no longer tolerating racism and coverups, misogyny and patriarchy in this state. They did the right thing by making us whole.”
In late June of 2022, the beach was officially transferred back to Derrick Bruce, the great-grandson of Willa and Charles. The Bruce family was set to lease the property back to Los Angeles for $413,000 a year for the continued operation of county lifeguard facilities at the site. The contract also included a clause that if the Bruces decided to sell, the profit could not exceed $20 million (The beach’s estimated value is $74 million).
After only a few months, the family decided to sell the property back to Los Angeles county for $20 million dollars because they wanted to take the lump sum and invest in other businesses. On Jan. 3, family attorney George Fatheree conducted a radio interview with 1580 KBLA radio host Tavis Smiley, supporting the family’s decision to sell the property.
“The return of the property and the ability to sell the property and take the funds and invest it in a way that’s important to their lives represents an important opportunity for my clients to get a glimpse of that legacy that was theirs,” Fatheree said.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn also supports the decision of the family.
“I fought to return Bruce’s Beach because I wanted to right this wrong. This fight has always been about what is best for the Bruce family, and they feel what is best for them is selling this property back to the county for nearly $20 million and finally rebuilding the generational wealth they were denied for nearly a century. This is what reparations look like. It’s a model that I hope governments across the country will follow.’’
Bruce’s Beach was created in 1912 for Black families to have a peaceful day at the beach without being harassed. But in 1924, the oasis’ serenity ended as the KKK started to assault Black people at the beach.
The Bruces didn’t waiver and kept the shore resort open until racist White residents and politicians became involved, which caused the Bruces to lose the estate. The Manhattan Beach Board of Trustees passed Ordinance 282, approving legal proceedings for “acquisition by condemnation for public park purposes” of the land.
After three years of battling in court, the Bruces eventually were forced to give the beach up and only received $14,500 for restitution after asking for $120,000 for the property and damages sustained from the city.