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Mrs. Willa Bruce (left) with her daughter-in-law and sister on Bruce’s Beach (part of Manhattan Beach) in the 1920s | CALIFORNIA AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM

Associated Press

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Los Angeles county officials may return a beachfront property that was seized from a Black family nearly a century ago.

Manhattan Beach used eminent domain in 1924 to force Willa and Charles Bruce, the city’s first Black landowners, off the land where they lived, KABC-TV reported Friday. They also ran a resort for Black families during a time when beaches in the strand were segregated.

Part of the land was developed into a city park. It is now owned by Los Angeles County and house the county’s lifeguard headquarters and training center.

County Supervisor Janice Hahn said she’s exploring options to restore justice for the family, including giving the land back, paying for what they lost or leasing the property from them so the lifeguard building can remain at the location.

“I wanted the county of Los Angeles to be a part of righting this terrible wrong,” Hahn told the station.

Meanwhile, a Manhattan Beach city task force is recommending that the City Council considers issuing an apology and creating a commemorative plaque to acknowledge the Bruce family.

Anthony Bruce, one of the family’s last living direct descendants now living in Florida, says the seizure robbed him of his family’s legacy.

“It was a wrong against the Bruce family,” says Anthony Bruce. “I think we would be wealthy Americans still living there in California… Manhattan Beach probably.”

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