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How Bruce’s Beach became a beacon in fight against racist policies that stripped black families of land | US News

When Duane “Yellow Feather” Shepherd was a kid, his mother pointed out Bruce Beach, saying “it was once the land of our people.”

Decades later, a small land next to the Pacific Ocean in California’s glittering city of Manhattan Beach was finally regained ownership of his family.

And the story of Bruce Beach Justice for generations of black families deprived of land and property due to racist policies..

image:
Willa and Charles Bruce purchased land on Manhattan Beach in 1912. Pic: AP

Dozens of families have now come forward to seek similar compensation.

“The scale is huge,” said Kavon Ward, co-founder of Where Is My Land, who campaigned to return Bruce Beach to the descendants of its original owner.

“They left because they were threatened, life threatened, children’s lives threatened, and the country is doing nothing about it. Now is the time.”

When Willa and Charles Bruce purchased land on Manhattan Beach in 1912, it began a remarkable transformation into a resort, one of the few places black families could swim in the ocean.

The Bruce family saw land confiscated by the city after resisting years of intimidation and harassment from locals.

The campaign that led to the passage of the bill was signed by California In September, Governor Gavin Newsom confirmed that the seizures were racially motivated and illegal and ordered their return.

Anthony Bruce Holds Bill ... Bruce ... Beach Bill ... After California Governor Gavin Newsom signs, Los Angeles County Clarifies How to Return Part of Manhattan Beach's Coastline to Descendants Helps a black family (AP Photo / Ringo HW Chiu) deprived of land in Manhattan Beach, California, on Thursday, September 30, 2021, almost a century ago.
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Anthony Bruce, a descendant of the original owner, and Gavin Newsom, Governor of California. Pic: AP

Shepherd, a descendant of the Bruce family and head of the Pocassette Wampanoag tribe in Pocassette, said his feelings were mixed.

“First of all, it’s one of the angers about what happened to my people at the time. They were traumatized by terrorists who didn’t want them to be peaceful just because of their skin color. rice field.

“I’m glad that people have stepped up now. They saw what was wrong and overwhelmingly supported our people because it was a fraud that shouldn’t have been done.”

A view shared by historian Allison Rose Jefferson.

“This particular event gives me an optimistic view, but unless something systematic is happening, there can’t be a big move to change and I can’t tell it overnight.” She said.

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She points out the fact that black residents make up less than 1% of the population at Manhattan Beach, home to Blues Beach and one of America’s wealthiest and most upscale cities today.

Kavon Ward says it is impossible to know how many similar cases can occur. “If there is legally unjust practice in almost every state, ask them to think about it and actually think about it. What do you think the number will be?”

Governor of California Gavin Newsom Photo Associated Press
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Gavin Newsom has signed a bill confirming that the seizure of Bruce’s land is illegal and racially motivated. Pic: AP

The groundbreaking decision to return Bruce Beach to the family still faces legal challenges.

Not surprising for the Duane Yellow Feather Shepherd. “That’s the story of America.”

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