Evanston, Illinois is apparently the first city in the United States to approve a Reperations Program. The program for African Americans was approved in the Chicago suburb on Monday night by the city council.
Advocates say the action represents a critical step in rectifying wrongs caused by slavery, segregation and housing discrimination. It also works in pushing forward on similar compensation efforts across the country.
“Right now the whole world is looking at Evanston, Illinois. This is a moment like none other that we’ve ever seen, and it’s a good moment,” said Ron Daniels, president of the National African American Reparations Commission, according to the Washington Post.
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 makes $400,000 available in $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants. It will also allow for mortgage assistance for Black residents. There is a catch to those who want to take advantage of the program. They will have to have a descendant who lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969.
The housing money is the first part of the program, though in total, Evanston will offer $10 million over the next decade for the broader reparations program. The money will come as a happy byproduct of the city’s expected income from cannabis taxes. Illinois recently legalized cannabis use.
Advocates Celebrate Evanston Reparations Program
After the passage of the program, several of those who pushed for it, laid out why it is so important.
“It’s a first tangible step,” said Alderwoman Robin Rue Simmons. “It is alone not enough. It is not full repair alone in this one initiative. But we all know that the road to repair injustice in the Black community will be a generation of work. . . . I’m excited to know more voices will come to the process.”
Historian Jennifer Oast, an expert on institutional slavery at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania also believes the program will create a “snowball effect.” She believes other communities around the country will also soon get to work on programs like this.
Some Critics Don’t Think It’s Enough
While most hailed the program’s passage in Evanston, there were some who felt as though no one was reading the fine print. That included activist Tariq Nasheed who laid out his problems on Twitter.
“This is NOT a real reparations program. And it has nothing to do with slavery,” Nasheed wrote. “Its a housing program that is only going to go to 16 people. And you have to have an ancestor who lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969. And the “rEpaRatiOns” goes to the banks not the person.”
This is NOT a real reparations program. And it has nothing to do with slavery. Its a HOUSING program that is only going to go to 16 people. And you have to have an ancestor who lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969.
And the "rEpaRatiOns" goes to the banks not the person https://t.co/GDe9NSPCrY
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) March 23, 2021
Other users responded that they expected Black Democrats to “get in line” and also hail the Evanston reparations program.
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