Reparations for Blacks
Demonstrators with the Reparationist Collective gather at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to demand reparations from slavery and inequity. 14 Feb 2021 (Bryan Dozier/Shutterstock)

Evanston, Illinois Passes Country’s First-Ever Reparations Program for Black Residents

As we reported previously, Evanston, Illinois recently became the first city in the nation to propose a reparations program for its Black residents. And now that proposal has passed and will go into effect later this year.

According to Mark Guarino of The Washington Post, “The nation’s first government reparations program for African Americans was approved Monday night in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, action that advocates say represents a critical step in rectifying wrongs caused by slavery, segregation and housing discrimination and in pushing forward on similar compensation efforts across the country.”

“Right now, the whole world is looking at Evanston, Illinois,” said Ron Daniels, president of the National African American Reparations Commission. “This is a moment like none other that we’ve ever seen, and it’s a good moment.”

Guarino reported that “The Evanston City Council approved the first phase of reparations to acknowledge the harm caused by discriminatory housing policies, practices and inaction going back more than a century. The 8-to-1 vote will make $400,000 available in $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants, as well as in mortgage assistance for Black residents who can show they are direct descendants of individuals who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969.” 

It’s a historic achievement for the small 158-year-old city with a population of approximately 75,000 that’s located just outside of Chicago along the north shore of Lake Michigan. 

ArLuther Lee of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that the initiative, which will cost approximately $10 million in tax dollars over the next decade 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.”

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.

During the Evanston City Council vote, the lone opposition vote came from Alderwoman Cicely Fleming of the 9th Ward, who felt the proposed housing program was being rushed to vote and also questioned whether payments via housing program was sufficient.

Let me be clear: I am 100% in support of reparations. I come from three legacy Black families in Evanston who have suffered enough. I am one of countless such families across the country. Real reparations are long overdue. But what is before us tonight is a housing plan dressed up as reparations,” Fleming said in a March 22 statement explaining her no vote for the resolution. “As ‘Reparations in Name Only,’ there is no autonomy for the community harmed. Instead of cash payments, which respect the humanity and self-determination of Black people and allow them to decide what’s best for themselves, this housing program is restrictive and only allows limited participation.”


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


Latest News

Three BASF Women Leaders Honored at the Manufacturing Institute’s 2021 STEP Ahead Awards

Originally published at BASF ranked No. 12 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Three BASF leaders in manufacturing were among 130 women recognized nationally at The Manufacturing Institute’s ninth annual STEP Ahead Awards. Focusing on science, technology, engineering and production (STEP), the program recognizes women…

Wells Fargo Pledges $1 Million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund for HBCU Seniors

Originally published at Wells Fargo ranked No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Wells Fargo and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) are teaming up to help close the graduation gap for college seniors attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The $1 million Thurgood Marshall…

Hershey Employees and Retirees in the US and Canada Pledged More Than $900,000 in 2021 To Support Nonprofit Organizations

Originally published on LinkedIn. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.    Each year, our Season of Giving campaign encourages Hershey employees to make a difference by supporting nonprofit organizations which they find to be meaningful. Employees and retirees in…

Creating Windows and Mirrors: Hershey’s Amber Murayi on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the ‘World’s Top Female-Friendly Company’

Amber Murayi is the Hershey Company’s Senior Director of Enterprise Strategy & Business Model Innovation & Co-lead of the Women’s Business Resource Group. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.    My position affords me a unique view of DEI…

Author Alice Sebold

Author Alice Sebold Apologizes for Her Role in the Wrongful Conviction of the Black Man Charged With Raping Her

In her acclaimed 1999 memoir Lucky, author Alice Sebold told the story of being raped in 1981 when she was a student at Syracuse University. The case resulted in a Black man named Anthony Broadwater being convicted and sent to prison. Sadly, Broadwater was innocent and wrongfully convicted — and…

Black renters

New Study Reveals Landlords Consistently Discriminate Against Potential Renters With Black or Hispanic ‘Sounding’ Names

In the largest study of its kind ever conducted, researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research have uncovered what many people of color already know when hunting for an apartment or home: most landlords consistently discriminate or harbor bias against non-white individuals looking to rent their property.  Bloomberg’s Kelsey…

book banning

American Library Association Documents 155 Attempts at Banning Books About POC or LGBTQ Issues in the Last 6 Months

In a depressing turn for anyone who thought society may have outgrown book burning or censorship of books over the last 100 years, it appears the hate-filled phenomenon is back on the rise, increasing with alarming frequency across the country. CNN’s Nicole Chavez has reported the American Library Association “has…