CTV NEWS – Officials in the Chicago suburb of Evanston voted Monday to release the first batch of funds in a program offering reparations to Black residents whose families have felt the effects of decades of discriminatory housing practices, according to the Chicago Tribune and Evanston Now.
It is the first of its kind in the country.
Alderman Robin Rue Simmons and the Evanston City Council developed plans to direct revenue from a 3% tax on legalized cannabis into assistance for home loans.
“We had to do something radically different to address the racial divide that we had in our city, which includes historic oppression, exclusion and divestment in the Black community,” Simmons told CNN.
The first initiative of the $10 million plan is the Restorative Housing Reparations program that would distribute up to $25,000 for housing per eligible resident.
Funding is expected to come from the 3% tax on recreational marijuana sales, according to CNN affiliate WLS.
Evanston’s plan comes as the national conversation on reparations is evolving.
Last week, Amalgamated Bank became the first major American bank to endorse HR 40, a piece of legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee that creates a commission to develop reparation proposals for African Americans.
The debate over the feasibility of reparations for Black Americans is no longer a fringe issue. The bank also called for tangible remedies for African Americans and an explicit apology for slavery’s foundation in today’s economy.
Jackson Lee reintroduced the legislation in January — as she has in every congressional session since 1996. It would study and develop proposals for providing reparations to African Americans.
She took up the baton from US Reps. John Conyers and Barbara Jordan, who launched the fight for reparations three decades ago.
Jackson Lee says HR40 is “as real and right as the fight we had for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, when there was a lot of fear and anger and hatefulness about giving more opportunities for Black Americans to be able to go into hotels and to sit at restaurant … ”