What are reparations?
Reparations are a means of addressing the wealth and opportunity gaps residents experience due to historical racism and discrimination.
Actions to date
The City of Evanston’s reparations planning process began in June 2019 following the City Council’s adoption of a resolution affirming the City's commitment to end structural racism and achieve racial equity. The City Council’s Equity and Empowerment Commission held two community meetings to gather public input on reparations in July, and summarized input and recommendations in a report to the City Council. In September, the Council accepted the Equity and Empowerment Commission's report and authorized the creation of a City Council subcommittee to begin the planning process.
In November, a Reparations Fund was created and adopted a resolution as part of the City's 2020 Budget. The City Council committed to utilize tax revenue collected from sales of recreational cannabis to support reparations in Evanston.
Following the City Council's adoption of the 2020 Budget, Ald. Robin Rue Simmons hosted a Reparations Town Hall Meeting at First Church of God in Evanston on December 11. Actor, humanitarian and Ambassador for the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent Danny Glover was the keynote presenter. Representatives from the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) also participated.
The City Council's reparations subcommittee includes 5th Ward Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, 2nd Ward Ald. Peter Braithwaite, and 8th Ward Ald. Ann Rainey. The subcommittee will work with residents, City staff and experts to explore and identify programs and opportunities to be supported by the Reparations Fund, including initiatives related to workforce development, entrepreneurship, home ownership, education and infrastructure. The process has just begun to consider many important issues, including the scope of funding opportunities, criteria and qualifications for participation, and level of funding.
A Reparations Plan will be proposed for City Council consideration in 2020. Once a plan is approved by the City Council, distribution from the Reparations Fund will begin, possibly in early 2021.