January 24, 2022

The Evanston Municipal Reparations Symposium Communique

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December 9-11, 2021, at a moment of unprecedented national and international racial reckoning, scores of community-based stakeholders, advocates, elected officials and scholars converged on Evanston, IL for a National Symposium on Municipal and Local Reparations. Convened by the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) and Hosted by FirstRepair, these leaders journeyed to Evanston because of the conception and adoption of the first city-wide Municipal Reparatory Justice Initiative in this city.  Building on the groundbreaking work of former Fifth Ward Alderman and Circuit Court Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, the courageous and visionary Alderman Robin Rue Simmons inspired her colleagues on City Council and the Mayor to adopt a resolution to allocate $10 million over 10 years to establish a Reparatory Justice Initiative.

After months of extensive engagement with Alderman Simmons, community stakeholders and elected officials, on April 19, 2020, NAARC Certified the Evanston Reparations Initiative as a flexible, adaptable model that could be replicated by municipalities around the nation. Evanston emerged as the epicenter, the source of inquiry, information and inspiration for civil rights/human rights and reparations advocates across the country seeking to interrogate the role of cities/municipalities in afflicting harm/injury on people of African descent. The collective work and collaboration of stakeholders and leaders in Evanston demonstrated that achieving reparations was/is possible. The Evanston Reparatory Justice Initiative is concrete, tangible, real.

When City Council allocated the first funding for the initial reparations program, the nation and world were watching and applauding. This dramatic act was further encouragement for local advocates to press ahead with plans to develop municipal reparation initiatives in every region of the U.S.

Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, Convener of NAARC; Robin Rue Simmons, Former 5th Ward Alderman for the City of Evanston, IL, Executive Director, First Repair and NAARC Commissioner. (Photo by Yancey Hughes)

The Organizers of the Symposium conceived it as space and place for those engaged in developing municipal reparations initiatives and those interested in pursuing this objective to learn about the intricacies of the Evanston Initiative and to create an atmosphere where stakeholders, advocates, scholars and elected officials could share their experiences and learn from each other.  Learning/sharing was intended to be the centerpiece of the Symposium process and experience.  From the outset, the Organizers expressed the hope that the Participants would adopt two major goals:

  • The establishment of a Local Reparations Resource Center to provide assistance to stakeholders and advocates building municipal and local reparatory justice initiatives in a structured learning/sharing environment.
  • Encouraging Municipal and Local Reparatory Justice Initiatives and advocates to support HR-40, the bill designed to create a National Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans.

The learning/sharing process and experience began with an in-depth bus tour of Evanston’s historically redlined Black communities conducted by Dino Robinson, the amazing Founder and Executive Director of Shorefront Legacy Center. Throughout the tour and during the visit to the Center, Dino stressed the critical importance of preserving the history of Black families and communities and scrupulously documenting the harm or injuries to Black communities as a consequence of governmental policies and practices. Dino’s revelations about the harm to Black communities in Evanston as a result of his rigorous research had a noticeable impact on the Participants and was highly appreciated. The Tour helped to set the tone for the Working Sessions of the Symposium. 

Continued on reparationscomm.orgSee photos and read the full Communique hereDownload .pdf versionDownload .doc version

About the National African American Reparations Commission

Convened by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (ibw21.org),

NAARC is a group of distinguished professionals from across the country with outstanding accomplishments in the fields of law, medicine, journalism, academia, history, civil rights and social justice advocacy.

Learn more — reparationscomm.org

Donate — reparationscomm.org/donate

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