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Black residents In Evanston, IL will finally receive reparations


After 3 years of debate

By Kristina Dixon | Across Black America

The town of Evanston, Illinois, will be the first city in the U.S. to keep its promise of paying reparations to Black residents.

The Chicago suburb expects to give $25,000 each to almost 140 residents by the end of the year, Newsweek reports. A memo from Tasheik Kerr, assistant to the city manager, claims the city has already met with 48 eligible recipients and 16 of them have received payments. Most of the recipients are elderly residents like 88-year-old retired postal worker Louis Weathers. To qualify, residents needed to have resided in Evanston between 1919 to 1969 and been victims of discrimination in housing or be a direct descendant of a Black person who did.

Weathers was a native of the city’s historic Black Fifth Ward until 1969 when he was able to move to a more predominantly white neighborhood due to law changes. The Korean War veteran said he needed to threaten to file a complaint to the real estate board just to get the agent to allow them to sign a sales contract for him and his wife to buy a house.

Reparation talk at the federal level has been stalled for years but during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, things started to move again. For the city of Evanston, this has been a work in progress since 2019 after committing to spending $10 million over the next 10 years toward local reparations. Two years later, the program was approved for eligible Black residents to receive housing grants for down payments, repairs, or existing mortgages in order to fix the city’s past racist housing policies.

The reparations program is being funded through a 3% tax on recreational marijuana and a real estate transfer tax. According to News Nation Now, a little over $1 million in revenue has been generated so far.

Officials at the front of the reparations fight feel like this move by the town is a great example for others to follow. “I see it as like a test run for the whole country,” Justin Hansford, head of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University, said.

California has been in the news for months in its fight for reparations for Black residents. In January, the San Francisco Reparations Committee advocated for a payback program with the recommended sum of $5 million each.