PHOTOS: Bruce’s Beach property is allowed to return to the family

In a historic move celebrated by advocates of reparations and social justice leaders across California, Governor Gavin Newsom authorized the return of property known as Bruce Beach to the descendants of a black couple who ran out of Manhattan Beach nearly a century ago.

Senate Bill 796, signed Thursday by Newsom, asserts that the city’s takeover of this beachfront land—in which Bruces ran a thriving resort for black beachgoers—was racially motivated and carried out under false and illegal pretexts.

Anthony Bruce, center, is the grandson of Charles and Willa Bruce, the couple who have been banished from Earth. Bruce spoke Thursday at a press conference in Manhattan Beach with Governor Gavin Newsom. He takes off his mask before speaking at a press conference where California Governor Gavin Newsom signs SB 796, authorizing the return of ocean-facing land to the Bruce family.

(Jay L. Clendenen/Los Angeles Times)

“As Governor of California, let me do what Manhattan Beach apparently doesn’t want to do: I want to apologize to the Bruce family.”

Governor Gavin Newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom, seated at Thursday's press conference in Manhattan Beach

Senator Stephen Bradford (Democrat of Los Angeles), left, Governor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and Anthony Bruce attend Thursday’s press conference in Manhattan Beach.

(Jay L. Clendenen/Los Angeles Times)

Bruce Beach was once one of the most prominent black-owned seaside resorts.

Bruce Beach was once one of the most prominent black-owned seaside resorts.

(Allen J. Chapin/Los Angeles Times)

A portrait of Charles and Willa Bruce in front of a commemorative plaque on Bruce Beach in Manhattan Beach.

A portrait of Charles and Willa Bruce in front of a commemorative plaque on Bruce Beach in Manhattan Beach.

(Milcon/Los Angeles Times)

The legislation states that “the land in the City of Manhattan Beach, improperly appropriated from Willa and Charles the Bruce, shall be returned to their living descendants,” and that it is in the public interest of the State of California, the County of Los Angeles, the City of Manhattan Beach and the people of the State of California to do so” .

Charles Willa Bruce's grandchildren gathered in 2018 at Bruce Beach, in Manhattan Beach, for a family reunion.

Charles Willa Bruce’s grandchildren gathered in 2018 at Bruce Beach, in Manhattan Beach, for a family reunion.

(Courtesy of Patricia Bruce Carter)

A couple sits on a lifeguard tower between 26th and 27th Streets on Bruce Beach in Manhattan Beach.

A couple sits on a lifeguard tower between 26th and 27th Streets on Bruce Beach in Manhattan Beach.

(Allen J. Chapin/Los Angeles Times)

Now Garden occupies the property that was previously owned by the Bruce family over a century ago in Manhattan Beach.

Now Garden occupies the property that was previously owned by the Bruce family over a century ago in Manhattan Beach.

(Allen J. Chapin/Los Angeles Times)

Two people silhouetted while working out with boxing equipment on Manhattan Beach

A man and woman train with boxing equipment outside the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Training Center, just below Bruce’s Beach Park, in Manhattan Beach.

(Jay L. Clendenen/Los Angeles Times)

Selron Bowdry and Kayla Taft watch the sunset at Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach.

Selron Bowdry and Kayla Taft watch the sunset at Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach.

(Allen J. Chapin/Los Angeles Times)

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