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Descendants Of Black And Latino Families Driven Out Of Palm Springs In The 1950s And ’60s Continue To Fight For Reparations

Descendants Of Black And Latino Families Driven Out Of Palm Springs In The 1950s And ’60s Continue To Fight For Reparations

According to Essence, the survivors and descendants of the group are Black and Latino natives of Palm Springs, CA. In the 1950s and ’60s, their families were driven out of a neighborhood known as Section 14, so new commercial real estate opportunities like luxury hotels, clothing stores and other businesses could be developed. Local government officials forced Black and brown residents out of their homes in a violent manner by wrecking and burning down their houses and other personal belongings, which has been called a “city-engineered holocaust” that left the community with nothing of their own, reported the LA Times.

Due to the trauma and impact of an entire community being wiped out of an area and displaced somewhere, the victims were forced to start from scratch. Now, the remaining living survivors and their families are asking for $2 billion in reparations after economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux disclosed the present-day worth of the land where their homes and businesses once thrived. In addition, they would like the city to invest money into a special revenue fund that provides money to Section 14 Survivors to support their college, home ownership, and business dreams. Furthermore, the money would also help build a “racial and cultural” healing center.

The City of Palm Springs did acknowledge the crimes they committed in ripping a community apart and apologized. To honor the families who had to uproot their lives, officials shared they would work with a reparations consultant and the Section 14 Survivors to come to a fair settlement for the wrongdoing, but there has been no movement on making this a reality.

“When the city issued its public apology, the city council also directed its city staff to meet with the families and work out a resolution. So, this seemed like the best way to move forward and work out a resolution,” Areva Martin, a civil rights lawyer representing the Section 14 Survivors, said in an interview with Essence. “But all of a sudden, unbeknownst to anyone, that vote was a no vote for that reparations group.”

The Palm Springs City Council completely reneged on their statement during a voting session, 3-2, where they denied the suggested 12-month contract with Columbia University Trustees citing that “that an advocacy group lacks the expertise and objectivity to deliver an objective historic analysis.”

“We went back and forth several times. There were several presentations made to the board about our recommendations for settlement, but essentially, we got nothing,” Martin said.

Despite the pushback and hold on reparations, the Section 14 Survivors aren’t giving up. They are continuing to spread awareness about the history of Section 14 to tourists and anyone they can reach through a public campaign they created called “Know Before You Go.”

“We decided that we needed to continue our campaign of telling our stories because we found that the way we had been able even to drive the city to the table was by changing the narrative, shifting the narrative, and allowing our survivors and their descendants to take control of the story,” Martin said.

The movement includes billboards and a petition to highlight what happened. The hope is for the city council member to rethink their decision and execute a plan that will support its original stance, which was to pay the survivors and descendants what they’re owed and deserve so they can have a chance to create generational wealth since the original opportunity was stolen from them.

“My clients love Palm Springs; some of them are third generation,” Martin said. “They love the city; they’re not trying to harm the city; they are trying to move the city forward.”

She continued, “They want justice; they want what they are entitled to in terms of compensation. They want to be made whole; they want to be given the opportunity to build the wealth that was stripped away from them and that other families in that community that don’t look like them were given every opportunity to build. And on top of all of that, they want to help the city grow economically; they want to help the city build those kinds of institutions and experiences that will attract additional money into the city.”

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