The Story

Evanston, Illinois, has become the first US city to approve reparations for Black Americans.

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Reparations are a way to address historical injustices. And are most often given in the form of compensation. Native Americans received reparations for the US’s seizure and pillaging of native lands. As did Japanese Americans affected by internment camps. But Black Americans have been excluded. Time and time again, the US has failed to compensate Black Americans for slavery and generations of racial discrimination that have led to wealth, housing, and education disparities. Now, a Chicago suburb is paving the way.

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On Monday, Evanston’s City Council voted 8-1 to approve local reparations in the hopes of compensating residents who’d suffered from the city’s housing discrimination laws. That includes Black Americans who a) lived in the city from 1919 to 1969 (before the city passed a fair housing law), b) their descendants, and c) anyone who can prove they faced housing discrimination because of city policies. People who qualify could receive up to $25,000 each in housing grants for things like repairs or property down payments. Right now, the city only has $400,000 to distribute, using tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales. It’s hoping to bump that figure up to $10 million over the next 10 years.

What are people saying?

One city official (who voted against the plan) called it “a housing plan dressed up” as reparations. And critics said people should have a say in what to do with the money. Supporters, including racial justice groups, activists, and other city officials say it’s a step in the right direction – and could lead to other reparation efforts by the federal gov and other cities. Throughout the country, communities are looking into it (like: the state of California, cities including Amherst, Asheville, and Iowa City). Private institutions like Georgetown University are on board too. Last month, Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) reintroduced a House bill calling for a federal commission to study reparations and slavery – something President Biden has said he supports.


For decades, politicians and activists have called on the US to grant reparations to Black Americans. Now, a city with a population of 73,000 people has taken the first step toward addressing generations of systemic racism.

Source: The Skimm