In Evanston, a suburb of Chicago, the local government had pledged to pay $10 million to Black residents over a decade as reparations for the horrors of slavery. However, critics argue that the sum falls short of what is truly needed.

Established in 2019, Evanston’s Reparations Fund aimed to facilitate homeownership for more Black citizens in the community. The reparations will be financed through taxes collected from recreational marijuana sales, and the money will be distributed as mortgage assistance and funding for home improvements.

As a component of the suburb’s 2020 budget, the Reparations Fund was created with the intention of using revenue from recreational marijuana sales to uplift the Black community in the city. While this initiative represents progress in addressing the legacy of slavery, local residents argue that additional efforts are needed to benefit the Black community.

Robin Rue Simmons, an Evanston alderwoman who introduced the legislation, told NBC News:

“Reparations is the most appropriate legislative response to the historical practices and the contemporary conditions of the Black community. And although many of the anti-Black policies have been outlawed, many remain embedded in policy, including zoning and other government practices.”

Simmons expresses her belief that America has reached a point where it is finally willing to provide reparations to the descendants of former slaves.

She said, “We are in a time in history where this nation more broadly has not only the will and awareness of why reparations are due, but the heart to advance it.”

On March 22, Evanston officials will hold a vote to determine whether they can distribute the first $400,000 in housing assistance to the city’s Black community. If approved, eligible residents would receive $25,000 to be used towards homeownership, mortgage assistance, or home improvements. Qualifying residents must have lived in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 or be direct descendants of those residents.

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During that era, Evanston banks notoriously discriminated against Black individuals, refusing to grant loans for homes on specific city blocks. Banks were not the only culprits; real estate brokers in the area also actively worked to exclude Black people from particular neighborhoods, thereby segregating the Chicago suburb.

At 96 years old, Professor Edwin Driver believes that Evanston’s reparations model could serve as a blueprint for other cities. Throughout his career at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Professor Driver experienced racial discrimination. When he joined the university’s faculty in 1948 as a 23-year-old sociology professor, he was denied raises for decades, despite being one of the institution’s most prolific and published professors.

Reflecting on his experiences, Professor Driver, now an emeritus professor, said, “There’s a lot of people in Amherst that have not gotten a proper share of things. I ended up being the lowest-paid professor in the department, but also its most productive.”

As the story of Evanston unfolds, it remains to be seen whether this reparations model will inspire similar initiatives in other communities across the nation.

Source: AWM

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