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Friday, 14 May 2021

U.S. city paves way to pay Black reparations

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U.S. city paves way to pay Black reparations
U.S. city paves way to pay Black reparations

Evanston, Illinois is set to become the first city in the United States to pay its Black residents reparation money to offset decades of lasting damage that came from racist housing policies, in a program that could become a national model.

Jayson Albano reports.

The Chicago suburb of Evanston is taking an unprecedented step to set right its past racial wrongs.

It's poised to be the first U.S. city to offer reparation money to Black residents, whose families have suffered lasting damage from 'redlining' - and it could become a national model.

Redlining was when banks and insurers refused to serve Black families looking to live in neighborhoods considered "white." It also kept Black businesses from thriving.

The impact of those policies are still felt today.

Evanston's 'Fifth Ward' is still predominantly black, and struggles with weak infrastructure.

Delois Robinson's family has always lived there.

"My great grandmother who was in Evanston, I guess she had been here since the late 30s, early 40s, she was a business owner.

But she was forced to stay in one certain area, to the point that she had to have the restaurant in her home." Evanston's city council votes on Monday to approve an initial $400,000 round of payments.

That will provide $25,000 per family for home repairs, down payments or mortgages.

City officials have agreed to donate $10 million over the next decade.

But some residents are wary of the plan.

Rose Cannon worries it may hurt more than help.

"It could possibly be the sullying of the true reparations that the United States owes to us.

They might say 'Oh!

You took these $25,000 from Evanston so we're gonna delete that from what we're gonna pay you." The sentiment highlights difficulties programs that can never truly relieve centuries of discrimination.

Other cities, from Asheville, North Carolina, to Amherst, Massachusetts, have launched initiatives - but have yet to say how much they'll pay.


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