Few people may actually know this story but it was important that we bring it to your attention. According to a report in PEOPLE, Willa and Charles Bruce bought an oceanfront property in Manhattan Beach, California for $1225 back in 1912. They would develop the land and it soon became a prime destination for Black families who wanted to live near the water and build a community. That is exactly what happened and if you have any frame of reference at all for how Amerikkka was back in 1912, then you probably have a good idea about what happened next.
Years of racist torment from whites, bigots, and the local Ku Klux Klan prompted the city of Manhattan Beach to condemn the neighborhood in 1924 by seizing all the property under the B.S. guise of “eminent domain”. The city cited the desperate need for a park…then the lot sat vacant for decades, plural.
Yesterday, embattled California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 796 with Willa and Charles’ great-great-grandson Anthony Bruce in attendance.
“As we move to remedy this nearly century-old injustice, California takes another step furthering our commitment to making the California Dream a reality for communities that were shamefully shut out by a history of racist exclusion,” Newsom said in a statement. “We know our work is just beginning to make amends for our past, and California will not shy from confronting the structural racism and bias that people of color face to this day.”
The vote to re-establish the Bruce family as the rightful owner of the land was unanimous in the state legislature with an urgency clause attached so that the legal process can begin immediately. This bill follows another that Newsom signed last week that gave Blues Beach property in Mendocino County back to Indigenous tribes.