As we celebrate Juneteenth, otherwise known as Freedom Day, it is a moment to reflect and raise awareness of the contributions that African Americans have given our communities since June 19, 1865, the day that the news of freedom reached enslaved African Americans in Texas. In the 159 years since then, we have made so much progress, but there is still so much to be done.

I write to bring attention to one such chapter – the history of the Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors – and to call on Palm Springs residents to stand in solidarity with us by reaching out to our local city leaders to urge them: it is time to reach a fair, just resolution with the survivors.

When Palm Springs began marketing itself as Hollywood’s playground in the desert in the 1950s, the Section 14 neighborhood was home to the service workers, union members and child care providers who made that possible. Our homes were built by many of the same carpenters and laborers who built Palm Springs, so to state that our homes were “haphazard, makeshift” structures in a “slum” is not only factually incorrect, it is an insult to our families who built Palm Springs with their own hands, and a way of denying our humanity.

My father, mother and I lived in the neighborhood for several years before it was destroyed. In the 1950s and 1960s, residents like myself, my neighbors and hundreds more of us were forcibly removed from our homes, which were razed to make way for commercial development.

For those of us who remember the destruction of our community, Juneteenth is a powerful reminder of our broader, often painful, national story. We continue to carry the trauma that we experienced in our hearts.

In recent years, the Section 14 Survivors have raised awareness of our experience, and we have been joined by hundreds of Palm Springs residents who believe in our fight for justice. The story of Section 14 resonates with so many people here because it reflects issues we still grapple with every day: economic inequality, racial injustice and fair treatment of all people no matter who you are. Our fight for restorative justice is about setting a course for a more just future. It’s about recognizing the enduring impacts of these injustices on our families and taking concrete steps to address them.

Now, the Section 14 Survivors are calling upon the people of Palm Springs to stand with us. As we celebrate Juneteenth, we must use this moment as a catalyst for broader change. It has been more than five decades since the destruction of our community, and it’s time for the city to make it right. It is time for restitution.

There are several ways you can show your support and let the city know that it’s time to reach a fair, just resolution with the Section 14 Survivors:

Standing with us, the survivors of Section 14, is more than an act of historical remembrance, it is a commitment to justice and equity. It is an acknowledgement that Black history isn’t just the past, it’s happening now. We’re still here.

By supporting the Section 14 Survivors, we can uphold the best of what Palm Springs represents – a community that cares, that remembers, and that acts for the greater good.

Pearl Devers is the chairperson of the Palm Springs Section 14 Survivors and is a survivor of Section 14. She was born in the Palm Springs Hospital, which her father helped build. She has over 40 years in the entertainment industry as a professional singer and award-winning movie producer. She also worked for the civil rights icon, Rosa Parks. Her email is pdevers1@gmail.com.