By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Reparations have finally arrived for some Black Americans.
The city of Evanston, Illinois, began its historic reparations program by providing compensation to its many of its Black residents.
Checks and vouchers in the amount of $25,000 have been sent this week to eligible residents, a move that backs up the city’s 2019 promise to pay as much as $10 million over the next decade in reparations.
Approved in March 2021, the program targets Black residents who resided in Evanston between 1919 and 1969 or experienced housing discrimination due to the city’s policies.
It’s a similar program which officials in San Francisco currently are grappling with, as that California city also considers reparations by the harms suffered by Black residents denied fair housing, job and educational opportunities, and other hardships that were unfairly inflicted upon African American communities.
One Evanston recipient, Louis Weathers, an 88-year-old retired postal worker and Korean War veteran, shared his personal experience with racial prejudice during his interview with the Wall Street Journal.
He recounted his time at an integrated junior high school, where a white teacher consistently marginalized Black students.
He explained that the teacher would purposely ignore their raised hands to undermine their capabilities.
“We got onto that, though. When we didn’t know the answer, we raised our hands,” Weathers recounted.
Weathers counted among the first to receive a $25,000 check from the city. He told the newspaper that he gave his reparations check to his son to reduce debt and make upgrades on his home.
The payments, which can be received as vouchers or cash, are funded through taxes on marijuana and real-estate transfers.
While Evanston has begun making reparation payments, similar proposals at the national level have faced challenges.
Although a federal bill calling for a national reparations task force has been introduced annually since 1989, it has yet to be voted on in Congress.
Evanston’s mayor, Daniel Biss, said his city remains committed to change.
“Our job here is just to move forward and to continue being that example, to continue illustrating that a small municipality can make real tangible progress,” he stated.