The 21st Show

Evanston began issuing reparations years ago. So, what’s next for Illinois and America?

A person walks a dog past a street sign reading

A person walks a dog past a street sign reading "Welcome to Evanston" in the predominantly Black 5th Ward in Evanston, Ill., Tuesday, May 4, 2021. AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

Almost three years ago, Evanston, in the Chicago suburbs, made national headlines when its city council approved what it called a reparations program. The idea was: revenue from the city's tax on marijuana would go to a small number of its residents, to the tune of $25,000 each ... which they would use for mortgage payments, home down payments, or home repairs. And as of earlier this year, there's a fourth option: a direct cash payment. There are also those who say what Evanston is doing doesn't go nearly far enough, and really shouldn't even be called reparations. Still, other cities in Illinois and around the country are looking to Evanston as a model.

Robin Rue Simmons

Former Alderwoman, Evanston; Founder, executive director, FirstRepair
Jeff Trask 
Chair, Champaign-Urbana Reparations Coalition
Adjunct Professor, College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Alvin Tillery
Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, Northwestern University