Following the October 15 service at UUSM, the activists Robbie Jones, Angela Scott, and Rebecca
Cannara from the Committee for Racial Justice talked to a group of around 30 congregants on how the apology from the City of Santa Monica to its African-American residents came about.
To my surprise, we were told that a large group from the CRJ Committee got together to write down the ways that Black Santa Monica residents had been discriminated against in the past. They gathered the information, did their research, and wrote the historical part of the document, and wrote the apology, too. They took this information to the Santa Monica City Council. It took over a year with much back and forth until the Council finally agreed to issue the apology. Mayor Sue Himmelrich, an early supporter of the group’s efforts, signed the apology on November 15, 2022.
During the talk, Robbie, a life-long Santa Monica resident, related how she gradually became aware of the early Black settlers in Santa Monica, around Pico Blvd. and 4th St, who were drawn from other states by the “Go West” slogan popular in the 1920’s. She learned how they had been treated in the past. Her family and friends told her how their elders had been redlined, or lost their property due to eminent domain, were paid a small part of their homes’ actual value, lost opportunities to establish businesses in the area, and many other types of discrimination due to the color of their skin.
At the end of the apology, it says that the City commits to overturning systemically racist policies to ensure that the pain caused by several decades of racial injustice and discrimination against African- Americans and other people of color is mitigated to the greatest extent possible.
Angela Scott has taken an informal survey asking people “What do Blacks want to rectify past discrimination against them in Santa Monica?” The most prevalent reply was housing, to replace a lost house with another house. Food for thought.
Photo from left to right: Rebecca Cannara, Angela Scott, Sandra Trutt, Robbie Jones