Palm Springs City Council addresses racism within city’s history

Olivia Sandusky

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Council members spoke passionately about racism at Thursday’s city Council meeting, a discussion sparked by Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Christy Holstege‘s letter to county supervisors.

“I think its wrong to oppose any review or any conversations about our history,” said Mayor Pro Tem Christy Holstege.

One issue the council addressed, the square mile parcel of land called section 14.

“Now considered our booming downtown, was once home to black and brown residents, when the land became desirable to the city, the residents were forced out of their homes, and their homes were burned,” said council member Grace Garner.

A decision by the secretary of the interior in 1959 allowed the city to develop the area, essentially forcing out members of the Agua Caliente tribe.

But it’s not the only time the area has been accused of racism or discrimination.

The creation of “Gentile only” country clubs excluded Jewish members in the 50s, including former resident Jack Benny.

“He didn’t know at the time and they said no no no this is a restricted club,” said Bill Marx, son of Harpo Marx.

With the rise of elite country clubs, another controversy formed. This time over Tamarisk trees, which separated the historically black Crossely neighborhood from the golf course.

“The United States was racist, and you could not have a black community on a while golf course,” said Trae Daniel, a resident of the Crossely neighborhood.

More recently, the Los Angeles time reports that in the 90s the principle of Palm Springs high school was harassed by students because of his race, adding to a list of issues in the city’s history the counsel wants to address and learn from.

“It is critical that we listen to each and every voice, and the life experience of each and every voice,” said Lisa Middleton, a council member of Palm Springs.

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