Evanston, Illinois Approves $10M In Reparations For Black Residents

Cars drive past a sign welcoming people to the city of in Evanston, Illinois, on March 16, 2021. - A suburb in Chicago is set to become the first place in the United States to provide reparations to its Black residents, with a plan to distribute $10 million over the next decade. Evanston, home to Northwestern University and just north of Chicago along the shore of Lake Michigan, will have a city council vote March 22 on the issue, which is expected to pass. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Evanston, Illinois Approves $10M In Reparations For Black Residents

A city council member doesn’t think of this as “real” reparations.

UPDATED ON : MARCH 23, 2021 / 06:46 PM

Written by BET Staff

 

Evanston, a suburb just north of Chicago, will be giving its Black residents a form of reparations. 

According to Yahoo, in an 8-1 vote, the Evanston City Council approved the groundbreaking measure. The money will come from community donations and revenue reaped from a 3 percent tax totaling some $10 million that will be distributed over the next 10 years.

The first phase will go to qualifying residents to receive $25,000 for homeownership, home improvement and mortgage assistance. Residents must either have lived in or been a direct descendant of a Black person who lived in Evanston between 1919 to 1969 who suffered discrimination in housing. Evanston passed a fair housing ordinance in 1969.

RELATED: North Carolina City Council Approves Plan For Reparations

Ron Daniels, president of the National African American Reparations Commission, said in a statement on March 22, “Right now the whole world is looking at Evanston. This is a moment like none other that we’ve ever seen, and it’s a good moment.”

However, Alderwoman Cicely Fleming, the one person on the council who voted against the measure, said  the program is “a housing plan dressed up as reparations.”

Fleming issued an official statement explaining her position and setting the record straight. 

“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,” the statement began.

“We must understand the definition of true reparations and its main goal: to do that, the People dictate its terms to Power, not the other way around. Rather, this resolution is dictating to Black residents what they need and how they will receive what they need.”

Rue Simmons, an Evanston alderman who represents the ward where she grew up, teamed up with local historian Dino Robinson, who founded the Shorefront Legacy Center, which records Evanston’s Black history. A report Robinson produced chronicled the history of racism in the town dating back to the late 19th century and the legislation was proposed in 2019.

Simmons told CNN, "We had to do something radically different to address the racial divide that we had in our city, which includes historic oppression, exclusion and divestment in the Black community.” 

It’s not clear when or how the funds will be distributed. 

(Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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