Evanston Moves Ahead With Plan For Reparations For Some Black Residents, But Some Say Plan Is Insufficient

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EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — The first round of reparations will soon be available in Evanston.

On Monday night, the City of Evanston moved forward with the plan to distribute money to Blacks in certain neighborhoods.

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But as CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, the move is divided – even amongst African-Americans.

Across Evanston, there is a push to right the wrong done by the city. Several decades ago, African-Americans were redlined to a section of Evanston corresponding roughly to the present day 5th Ward, south of the North Shore Channel and primarily west of Green Bay Road and north of Church Street.

“People of color such as myself and my dad – who grew up here in Evanston just a couple blocks over – this is the area where they could live,” said Vanessa Johnson-McCoy, a realtor in Evanston. “Years ago, that was not the opportunity that we just couldn’t take them to anywhere because of the redlining.”

She recalls the challenges her parents faced in the 1950s, and knows the obstacles Blacks in Evanston endured looking for housing.

“The banks would not allow them – they would give them money to buy outside of this area,” Johnson-McCoy said. “It was very challenging.”

Johnson-McCoy is pleased to see Evanston correct the wrong through reparations. The city already approved $10 million over a decade to put toward reparations from marijuana revenues.

Now, $400,000 will be available to Blacks whose families were impacted by the racist housing policy.

“I say it’s definitely a start, and I say yes, we have to begin somewhere,” Johnson-McCoy said.

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But some activists are not on board with the proposal.

“What this plan is, is not reparations,” said Sebastian Nalls.

Nalls organized the “Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations” group. The group supports reparations, yet the organization claims what the money can be used for places huge limitations.

“Residents are unable to use their funds for anything other than housing,” Nalls said.

Currently, less than 20 people would be eligible for the estimated $25,000. The payments must go toward home repairs, downpayments, or mortgages.

Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations said there is no accountability for the next phase.

“You can’t take a step forward without knowing what the second step is, and we don’t know what the second step is,” Nalls said. “It was decided by the council that it will be up to the next council.”

But Johnson-McCoy said, “Housing is the just the first step, and there will be other parts of this initiative.”

Evanston is the first city in the country to move ahead with reparations. Other cities are watching, and that is why one Evanston alderwoman who voted “no” said she voted against the policy.

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The alderwoman, Cicely Fleming (9th), said this is a “housing program” rather than reparations.

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