*Evanston, Illinois is the first American city to fund reparations to Black residents, and leaders have announced plans to provide $10million over the next 10 years.
According to an ABC News report, reparations of as much as $25,000 per resident that qualifies will be distributed to use toward housing. The city passed its reparations resolution in 2019, an effort spearheaded by 5th Ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons.
Per The Sun, the Black population in Evanston has become smaller due to redlining, rising property taxes and gentrification, and makes up only 16 percent.
Rue Simmons didn’t start her political career “even discussing reparations,” she said. “It was not something I had planned to pursue.”
“I was looking at data,” she continued. “I was looking at what we had done, what more we could do, and reparations was the only answer.”
“I cannot wait to celebrate the family that receives the first reparations benefit.”
Evanston, IL, is the first U.S. city to commit funds for reparations, following decades of discrimination. A local leader tells @ABC about her hopes for justice. https://t.co/0ip04gqPWU pic.twitter.com/5eFnNshmcY
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) March 2, 2021
She explained that the status quo would always sustain “the oppressed state and the disparity that we have and that we have had for years. That’s all it could do. More of the same.”
“The only legislative response for us to reconcile the damages in the Black community is reparations,” Rue Simmons said.
She teamed with local historian Dino Robinson to build the case for reparations. In a 70+ page report, Robinson outlines the city’s history of discrimination and racism dating back to the late 1800s.
“We anticipate litigation to tie things up with the premise that ‘You cannot use tax money that’s from the public to benefit a particular group of people,'” Robinson said, referring to opposition to the reparations plan. He noted that “the entire Black community historically has paid taxes, but were not guaranteed the same benefits.”
Part of the resistance is due to a lack of education.
“The one comment I hear most often is, ‘I did not know,'” said Robinson. “‘I did not know there was segregation in Evanston.’ ‘I did not know that your housing mortgage is higher than mine but we have the same income.”
According to Rue Simmons, the $25,000 housing benefit is meant to combat “a lack of affordability, lack of access to living wage careers here in the city, and a lack of sense of place.”
Scroll up to hear more from Rue Simmons about it via the clips above.