Evanston, Illinois

Evanston, Illinois is First City in US to Offer Reparations to Black Americans

In a historic first, the town of Evanston, Illinois, has become the first city in the U.S. to commit to paying the Black citizens who live within its borders reparations for generations of lost wealth, inequality and systemic racism as an ongoing result of slavery in the nation’s past.

The small 158-year-old city with a population of approximately 75,000 is located just outside of Chicago along the north shore of Lake Michigan. ArLuther Lee of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that the city is planning to distribute ”$10 million in tax dollars to the cause over the next decade, with $25,000 payments to eligible residents beginning this spring.”

According to Lee, the policy was spearheaded by 5th Ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons. Funds for the reparations will come from a new 3% tax on the now legal sale of recreational marijuana within the city.

The dispersals will be targeted towards housing and are intended to remedy “a lack of affordability, lack of access to living wage careers here in the city and a lack of sense of place,” said Rue Simmons in an interview with ABC News. “It’s the most appropriate use for that sales tax. In our city, 70% of the marijuana arrests were in the Black community. And we are 16% of the community. All studies show that Blacks and white [people] consume cannabis at the same rate,” she added.

ABC’s Ashley Brown, Emilie de Sainte Maresville and Allie Yang reported that Rue Simmons partnered with local Black historian Dino Robinson to build the case for reparations.

“Robinson is the founder of the Shorefront Legacy Center in Evanston, an archive dedicated solely to chronicling and celebrating the local Black history that had long gone ignored,” the reporters wrote. “In a 70+ page report, Robinson documented discrimination and racism in Evanston that dated back to the late 1800s.”

“We anticipate litigation to tie things up with the premise that ‘you cannot use tax money that’s from the public to benefit a particular group of people,'” Robinson said while reflecting on the reparation plan. But he then noted that “the entire Black community historically has paid taxes but were not guaranteed the same benefits.”

Dating back decades in the city, he said Black people were relegated to certain parts of the city, denied loans and housing and “choked off from wealth opportunities that were generally afforded to white people.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that today, Black people living in Evanston make less than half their white counterparts and live in homes that are worth 50% less than their white neighbors.

And that fact isn’t unique to Evanston either. The Federal Reserve 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances has reported that Black Americans in general possess less than 15% of the wealth of white Americans.

The idea of reparations to atone for the effects of slavery first became popular in the late 1860s but remains largely unfilled to this day. Various lawmakers and Congresspeople have also brought up the idea over the years but so far, it has never gained enough traction to face a serious chance of approval on a federal level. The actions of Evanston lawmakers may provide a new path forward showing how reparations could be carried out on a larger scale across the country without direct congressional funding or support.


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


Latest News

Caron Nazario

Virginia Police Pull-Over, Threaten, and Pull Gun on Black Army Lieutenant Because They ‘Missed’ New Purchase Paperwork on Truck He Was Driving

In the latest of a seemingly never-ending stream of cases involving police racism and organizational misbehavior, two police officers in Virginia have been accused of threatening a Black Army lieutenant — and pulling a gun on him — during a routine traffic stop involving vehicle identification. David K. Li of…

Georgia voter suppression protests

More Than 100 Corporate CEOs Discuss Ways to Fight Against Georgia Voter Suppression Law

On Saturday, April 10, the CEOs from dozens of the country’s leading corporations came together on Zoom to talk about ways Corporate America can aid in the fight against a number of controversial and racist voter suppression laws that are currently in discussion across the U.S., including the new law…

student in library

Books Focusing on Race, Diversity, and Inclusion Still Labelled as “Inappropriate” for Students in 2020, American Library Association Reports

American culture as a whole experienced a civil rights reawakening throughout 2020. Although there has been a dramatic increase in calls for social justice, representation and inclusion, this progressive movement still has plenty of detractors, especially in the educational space. According to a new report from the American Library Association,…


Data From 500 Million LinkedIn Accounts Hacked and Put Up for Sale on the Dark Web

In a blow to businesspeople of all levels and industries, the career and business networking site LinkedIn confirmed that data “scraped” from approximately 500 million profiles has been archived by hackers and is being sold on the dark web. The site has approximately 675 million members, meaning that data from…

Abraham Lincoln High School

San Francisco School Board Forced to Abandon Controversial Plan to Rename Schools Honoring Historic Figures

The San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education drew nationwide attention earlier this year over its announcement to change the name of 44 schools “named after figures with disputed historical relevance.” And now, following widespread public condemnation and a vote of members, the board has decided it will no…

Park Cannon

Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Park Cannon, Georgia Representative Arrested For Protesting State’s New Racist Voter Restriction Laws

Reaction to Georgia’s restrictive and anti-Black voter disenfranchisement policies continues to stir up controversy. Major League Baseball pulled their wildly popular 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta and moved it to Denver to show their disappointment with the decision. Georgia-based companies like Delta and Coca-Cola have also announced their disapproval of…