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Tamiko Overton Parks, Communications Lead
Wednesday, January 4, 2022 – The descendants of Charles and Willa Bruce have decided to sell the land that was returned to them after nearly 100 years. Bruce’s resort business was subjected to violent harassment and seized by the city. California’s Manhattan Beach made it impossible for the Bruce family to move its business anywhere in their beach town, so they moved inland where they worked for other businesses as chefs for the remainder of their lives.
Kavon Ward, founder of Justice for Bruce’s Beach and CEO and Founder of Where Is My Land states “While I am disappointed the Bruces have chosen to sell the land, I understand their decision, as the city of Manhattan Beach is anti-Black. Justice, in this case, should afford the family some peace; unfortunately, I don’t believe the Bruce family descendants will find peace taking up space in a racist Manhattan Beach.”
Where Is My Land is an outgrowth of the landmark success of Kavon Ward’s leadership and community organizing in Manhattan Beach, Calif., where Bruce’s Beach was returned to the descendants of the Bruce family. Where Is My Land is replicating and scaling this success to help even more Black families pursue their own claims of stolen land.
Land ownership is a key driver of generational wealth. Barriers to ownership — including land theft, redlining, and economic disenfranchisement — have resulted in a persistent and pernicious racial wealth gap. In the early 20th century, Black Americans owned between 16 million to 19 million acres of farmland and made up 14 percent of farmers. By 2012, those figures had decreased to 3.6 million and 1.6 percent, respectively.1 There are few ideals more American than property rights. If this nation is to live up to its purported ideals, then land reparations, restoration, and restitution are imperative.
Ward asserts, “The wealth is important, but it’s not just the wealth. It’s how land theft tore apart our communities, our families, deprived us of opportunity, and erased the pride of ownership and success from our history and our narratives.”