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California takes step to return land to Black couple's heirs

black family beach.jpg
Posted at 6:59 PM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 18:59:34-04

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that allows ownership of a prime beachfront property to be transferred to heirs of a couple who built a resort for Black people in the early 1900s.

The property was purchased in 1912 by Willa and Charles Bruce, who built the first West Coast resort for Black people when segregation barred them from many beaches.

The family was stripped of the land by local officials in the 1920s.

"As governor of California, let me do what Manhattan Beach apparently was unwilling to do, and I want to apologize to the Bruce family for the injustice that was done to them a century ago," Gov. Newsom said.

The legislation signed Thursday was necessary to allow the start of the complex legal process of transferring ownership of what was once known as Bruce’s Beach in the city of Manhattan Beach and has been owned by Los Angeles County.

"We stand here ready to transfer this property back to the rightful owners," said California Sen. Steven Bradford.