United States: African-American family finds their property plundered in the 1920s

In 1924, Charles and Willa Bruce, a black couple, owned land on the Pacific Ocean, in Manhattan Beach, south of Los Angeles. They built a holiday village there for blacks who, due to segregation, had very few beaches. But the city will then expropriate the Bruce. Almost a century later, Los Angeles County will finally return this land to the descendants of Charles and Willa.

In the 1920s, in California, the Bruce resort was a real success. It is the destination for African-American families in the region for the weekend. But Charles and Willa Bruce will unfortunately not enjoy this little paradise for long.

For the Ku Klux Klan, there is no question of allowing this community to have access to this beach. The organization punctures the tires of visitors’ cars, attempts to set the building on fire, and harasses the Bruces.

Alison Rose Jefferson is a historian and author of  Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era . For her, the story of this black family is not unique in the region: “  At the beginning of the 1920s, the whites of the neighborhood succeeded in convincing the city council to take over the land from the couple. It was their way of driving out black people. Other black families have suffered the same fate! And the result is that today: 35,000 people live in Manhattan Beach, and less than 0.5% are of African American descent! 

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