City moving forward with reparations discussion after meeting with Section 14 descendants, others
Palm Springs will join the state and national conversation on reparations next week, focusing on making amends for atrocities that occurred in the city more than 60 years ago.
Driving the news: Land belonging to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is spread out like a checkboard throughout the city, divided into one-square-mile sections. One of the sections — Section 14 — is in a prime downtown location.
- Prior to a 1959 leasing act, the tribe allowed working-class families to lease property and build homes on the land. Most of the families were minorities, including most of the city’s Black community, whose members were not allowed to rent or own homes elsewhere in the city.
- White business owners, allowed to secure 99-year leases, looked to develop Section 14. They created a system of court-appointed conservators to manage the finances of individual tribal members, then set about terminating land leases for families and evicting them from the land, often with little notice, if any.
Flash forward to 2021, and elected city officials issued a formal apology and voted to remove the statue of the mayor at the time from in front of City Hall. They also asked staff to explore reparations for surviving members of families who were kicked out.
City staff issued a report — available here — after meeting with an organization representing 120 known Section 14 descendants, representatives from the Desert Highland Gateway Estates neighborhood, and others on April 11.
- In a letter sent last Thursday, attorneys for the Section 14 descendants proposed that the city make payments to direct survivors, build housing, and provide access to education for “the community at large.”
Next steps: The City Council will discuss the issue at its meeting on Thursday (item 3A here) and is expected to direct staff on how to proceed.
STUDENTS RETURN: Two dozen local students who toured Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) last week returned on April 15 after a whirlwind tour of Washington DC and the surrounding area. The trip was organized by members of the African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC) with funds from Palm Springs Unified School District (see our complete story here) and more than $4,000 in community donations. It included stops at multiple colleges synonymous with Black excellence — including Howard, Hampton, Norfolk State, and Morgan State universities — and museums and landmarks that tell the stories of Black history. “These 24 students are amazing and handled a full itinerary daily,” AAPAC leaders said. “It is our hope that they return home more inspired about pursuing higher education and changing lives.” A similar trip is planned for at least the next two years.
DBA AWARDS: The Desert Business Association (DBA) will be handing out a handful of awards and presenting scholarships this evening at Desert Rose Playhouse. Those being honored are The Roost Lounge (Outstanding Business); Jimmy Boegle of the CV Independent (Outstanding Business Person); Brothers of The Desert (Outstanding Community Service Organization); Ron deHarte of Palm Springs Pride (Outstanding Community Service Leader); and Ron Celona, the founding artistic director of CV Rep (Legacy Award). More information about the event, including registration, is available here. DBA is comprised of about 250 LGBTQ and allied businesses and professionals from across the Coachella Valley who have joined together for business promotion, economic development, educational, and humanitarian purposes.
? Today’s events
- The Mizell Center offers multiple programs and classes today, starting at 8 a.m.
- Palm Springs Unified School District middle school students are invited to participate in Disco Learning all week long. There are also springs break camps at the Leisure Center and James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center.
- Free Covid-19 testing is offered outside the Palm Springs Convention Center starting at 8:30 a.m.
- Curious about changes to residential trash, recycling, and food and yard waste collection services coming late this year? The city is discussing them today in person at the library.
- The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters are attending an A Capella rehearsal tonight at 6:30 p.m.
For more events, check the complete community calendar. Want your event listed? Just click here
? What to watch for
- The Mizell Center’s 3rd Wednesday Speakers Series presents a panel discussion titled “Jazz in Palm Springs: Past, Present & Future” on Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m.
- The Palm Canyon Theatre’s next production, Monty Python’s Sir Spamalot, runs April 22 through May 1.
- A shredding and e-waste collection event is scheduled for Saturday, April 23, from 8 a.m. until Noon outside Palm Springs City Hall.
- The Annual Preservation Matters Symposium is scheduled for this weekend, April 23 and 24, at Palm Springs Convention Center.
- The next Lez Out Loud comedy show is slated for April 23. Emcee and Comedian Mina Hartong is joined by two other comedians during the event at Runway Bar and Grill.
- The Books vs. Badges charity basketball game between Palm Springs High teachers and staff and Palm Springs Police Department officers is scheduled for April 26 at the high school gym.
- A third community meeting regarding the planned homeless navigation center along McCarthy Road is being held virtually 5:30 p.m. on April 27.
- Desert Winds Freedom Band has its next performance on Sunday, May 1
- The Palm Springs International Jazz Festival is scheduled for the weekend of May 14 and 15 at the historic Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs.