Illinois city passes reparations for eligible Black residents

A Chicago area city on Monday has become the first city in the U.S. to offer reparations to Black Americans, according to ABC News.

Eligible Black residents of Evanston, Illinois, will receive $25,000 starting this spring from a $10 million fund that will be distributed over the next ten years. The program is funded by a three percent tax on newly legal recreational marijuana sales, per ABC News.

Evanston’s City Council voted 8-1 Monday to pass the initiative, according to reports.

The payments will be used for housing and will address disparities that “are rooted in historic and anti-Black policies that were specifically enforced by the city of Evanston,” Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, who represents the city’s 5th district, told BNC.

Simmons believes that it was important for Evanston to take actions that were “truly reparative in application and beyond apology.”

Around $400,000 will be targeted for this housing initiative. Still, the city will eventually launch a public disclosure process to see what other programs the money could be used for, Simmons said.

The city’s decision to move forward with the program wasn’t met without controversy. A Facebook called “Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations” blasted Evanston’s decision and previously called for the city’s mayor and alderpersons to delay the vote approving the measure.

“We have come together as residents to fight against fake reparations,” The group wrote on Tuesday. “We reject racist reparations and demand a better, more responsive, more complete program that provides access to reparations acts of actual repair to Black folks.”

Simmons said that she does not take policy recommendations from Facebook but said she was “disappointed” over the characterization.

“It’s so farfetched to hear that building wealth targeted to the Black community is racist,” she said.

Simmons adds that while $25,000 isn’t enough that it’s a good “first tangible step.”

Private businesses, churches and individuals have all added to the fund, according to Simmons.

Alderman Cicely Fleming told the Associated Press that she supports reparations but voted against the program because the city’s residents should have a say in how their issues are addressed.


Editor’s Note: This story was originally posted on March 4. It has been updated to reflect Evanston’s City Council 8-1 vote to approve reparations for eligible Black residents. 

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