Evanston, Illinois, a city just outside of Chicago, has become the first U.S. city to make reparations to Black people for past discrimination and racism stemming from the ills and evils of slavery.
The Evanston City Council approved the first phase of reparations to acknowledge the harm caused by discriminatory housing policies, practices and inaction going back more than a century. The 8-to-1 vote will initially make $400,000 available in $25,000 homeownership and improvement grants, as well as in mortgage assistance for Black residents, primarily those can show they are direct descendants of individuals who lived in the city between 1919 and 1969 and suffered from such discrimination.
The plan will be funded by a three percent tax on recreational marijuana. The city has pledged to distribute $10 million over the next 10 years under the plan.
A number of other cities including Chicago, Providence, RI, Burlington, VT and Asheville, NC have all launched reparation initiatives, but have not released specific details, according to Reuters. California and New York have also introduced similar initiatives for their Black residents.
The Jesuit order of Catholic Priests also announced a $100 million pledge to benefit descendants of slaves it once owned.
“Right now the whole world is looking at Evanston, Illinois. This is a moment like none other that we’ve ever seen, and it’s a good moment,” said Ron Daniels, president of the National African American Reparations Commission, which wants redress at local and federal levels.
The plan is expected to be challenged in court but Alderman Rue Simmons, who proposed the program in 2019, told NBC News pro reparations groups will offer pro bono legal services if the program is challenged in court.
The lack of homeownership among Black residents also shows the wealth gap between the two and hopes are that reparations to Black people will help right the wrongs of discrimination. Homeownership is one of the best ways to accumulate generational wealth in the U.S.