Descendants Of Black Entrepreneur Discover Santa Monica Took Family's Land

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The descendants of a Black entrepreneur are seeking justice after discovering the city of Santa Monica took their family's land decades ago.

The land where the Viceroy Hotel currently stands on Ocean Avenue and Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica was once owned by entrepreneur Silas White, who purchased the property in 1957, NBC Los Angeles reports.

White acquired the land and the former building that sat on it with hopes of establishing the Ebony Beach Club, a place where Black people could come together and socialize.

In 1958, the city took White's land through eminent domain and later demolished the building.

“They claim that the reason they took it was because it was needed for a public parking lot,” Milana Davis, White's niece, said. “But eight years after they took it from him, it was suddenly found to be the perfect spot for a first-class four-star hotel.”

Silas died in 1962, and his family just recently learned of the situation through "Where Is My Land?" an organization that aims to identify cases of land theft from Black owners.

“We don't want apologies. We don't want another plaque,” Kavon Ward, the organization's founder, said. “And if you do provide that, we want that in conjunction with true justice, which is a land return and compensation for decades of wealth lost.”

The City of Santa Monica released the following statement in the wake of the discovery.

“Santa Monica hears and acknowledges the voices on this topic in the community and is actively seeking appropriate and realistic remedies. We know that for those who have been wronged by the city’s past discriminatory practices, justice can’t come soon enough, and we take what we’ve learned from the families and individuals who have been harmed by these acts very seriously. We are a better city because of their continued attention to these issues and we are committed to getting this right.”

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