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First City to Pay Reparations - Evanston Illinois

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

Evanston is a city in the Chicagoland area. Located in Cook County, Illinois, United States. When the conversation is about the North Shore along Lake Michigan…Evanston is spoken of. Twelve miles north of Downtown Chicago, bordered by Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, Wilmette to the north, and Lake Michigan to the east.

Evanston, Illinois, became the first U.S. city to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery. In doing so, this college town of 74,000 accomplished something that a generation of civil rights activists hadn’t managed to elevate beyond a legislative pipe dream.

Evanston's median annual earnings of $72,966 are the second smallest as measured by median earnings per worker of all the other places in the metropolitan area. The city with the highest median earnings per worker in the area is Kenilworth with median earnings of $184,766.

After months of negotiation and years of groundwork, Alderman Robin Rue Simmons and her eight fellow aldermen saw measure 126-R-19, pass 8 to 1. The measure is known as ‘A Resolution Establishing a City of Evanston Funding Source Devoted to Local Reparations.’

The program will be funded through donations and revenue from a 3% tax on the sale of recreational marijuana. The city has pledged to distribute $10 million over 10 years. A Chicago Magazine article stated that the measure’s central provision provided that the Chief Financial Officer is authorized to divert all adult-use cannabis funds received by the Illinois Department of Revenue to a separate fund for local reparations. To enhance potential funding to ‘Restorative Reparations’ the measure allowed individuals and companies to contribute to the fund.

The criteria for recipients is that qualifying residents must either have lived in or been a direct descendant of a Black person who lived in Evanston between 1919 to 1969 and who suffered discrimination in housing because of city ordinances, policies, or practices. Initially, $400,000 will be disbursed to eligible black households. Each qualifying household would receive $25,000 for home repairs or down payments on property.

Download the Following Documents for More Details

References and Resources

  • Associated Press, First U.S. City to Make Reparations Available to Its Black Residents| March 23, 2021, 7:11 AM EDT

  • TownCharts, ‘Top 25 Cities ranked by Median household income.’ (2020 Census Bureau data) |

  • TownCharts, Evanston, Illinois Economy, and Income Data:

  • Chicago Magazine, Bryan Smith, ‘Evanston’s Road to Reparations’ |

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