The horrors of American slavery were truly one of the great travesties of the past, and there is a great debate raging in our nation today regarding how and when the United States can fully move on from the long-abolished practice.
For some, the issue is no longer slavery but racism. They see slavery as over, but can recognize that racism still exists to this day. Our nation has attempted in the past to reconcile this problem through programs like Affirmative Action and any number of government initiatives aimed at equality.
But, for others, this hasn’t been enough. Either the sentiment was never strong enough or the programs failed miserably. This is why the idea of reparations continues to persist today.
In Illinois, one city is giving it a shot in earnest.
Evanston, Illinois, on Monday became the first U.S. city to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery.
The Chicago suburb’s City Council voted 8-1 to distribute $400,000 to eligible black households. Each qualifying household would receive $25,000 for home repairs or down payments on property.
The program is being 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.
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.
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The idea of reparations has long been a controversial one, however, and there is little doubt that Evanston’s example will be hotly debated in the weeks to come.
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