A Chicago neighborhood is testing out a reparations program for Black residents who resided in the area during the city’s harsh era of racial discrimination.
The suburb known as Evanston, which has roughly 78,100 residents, has shelled out money to 16 residents who lived in the region between 1919 and 1969. They also had to have been at least 18 years old during that time period. This program is the first of its kind, said leaders who pushed for it, serving as a “test run for the whole country.” For several years, states have entertained the idea of financial payments to their Black residents, especially those who faced severe injustice during and after the Jim Crow era. Descendants of slaves have also been a focal point of potential payments, though an undertaking such as that could take years.
Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss has long supported the reparations. In 2019, the city approved a $10 million package to be dispersed over the next decade. By the end of 2023, Evanston hopes to pay $25,000 to at least 140 qualifying elderly residents. Over 670 residents have applied for the reparations program. Louis Weathers, an 88-year-old recipient of the $25,000, spoke with the Wall Street Journal, explaining that he was discriminated against early in life by white educators and peers. Siblings 77-year-old Kenneth Wideman and 75-year-old Shelia Wideman were also among the first 16 recipients of the funds.
“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,” Mayor Biss explained.