Evanston’s Equity and Empowerment Commission is scheduled tonight to sift through more than hundred ideas for possible reparations programs to benefit black residents of the city.

The panel, chaired by former 7th Ward alderman Jane Grover, held two public meetings last month of its “Solutions Only Sub-Committee,” formed at the urging of Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, to solicit suggestions for such a project.

Among the ideas included in a list in the panel’s meeting packet are:

  • Providing free tuition at Northwestern University and at community colleges for black students from Evanston.
  • Creating a new black-owned media outlet in the city.
  • Having the city donate a building to the Shorefront Legacy Center, which researches black history on the north shore..
  • Force payday loan businesses to invest in the community.
  • Provide free mental health care.
  • Provide housing vouchers scattered across neighborhoods.
  • Pay homeowners to replace chain-link fences with plantings or more attractive fencing.
  • Provide tax forgiveness for homeowners.
  • Provide rent control for tenants.
  • Appoint more blacks to city boards and committees.

Several of the suggestions involved actions that most likely are outside the city government’s purview and would have to be undertaken by the city’s two school districts. They include:

  • Having African-American teachers teach black history in the schools.
  • Investing heavily in childcare and early childhood education programs.
  • Provide free transportation to students walking several blocks to school.
  • Stop “forced busing” — the busing of students to improve racial balance in the schools.
  • Build a STEM school in the 5th Ward.

Rue Simmons has suggested that the City Council fund reparations programs at a level of $1 million for the next 10 years and develop a designated revenue stream to cover the cost.

The commission’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in Room 4802 at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. After 50 plus years of solid

    After 50 plus years of solid Civil Rights law people are complaining they still need help. This is sad story. We have spent millions locally on social services and schools with no economic return. My best analysis is we should do nothing further at this time.

    You would be amazed howe issues float away when one has to resolve their own issues.

    I employ 40 people at over 30k year in service trades. People from certain backgrounds don’t show up on time more than others who have very little formal education with great work ethics born in lesser places, who are great at doing their jobs and are raising productive children that have gone on to college.

    The issues are internal not external.

  2. No need for reparations

    Didn’t Evanston Now just report that there is a projected $3.5 budget shortfall for 2020?.  The solution starts at D65 (budget increasing more than twice the rate of inflation) and holding ALL students who can not pass grade level back. Once they can read/write, do math at grade level, they can advance to the next level. 

    Our society is more and more based on technology.  Students who are mindlessly passed through our education system and can not master grade appropriate material are done a tremendous disservice once they enter adulthood.

    Further, it is a proven fact that students who come from an intact family perform at a higher level than students from a non-intact family.  Why aren’t our communicty leaders (including our spiritual leaders) reminding parents the importance of intact families and its impact on student performance?  

    Evanston is an incredibly generous community.  There is no need for reparations.  There is a need to talk about responsibility and how it impacts the lives of others.

    If there is a belief that $1 million dollars is needed for reparations, let those interested in reparations voluntarily donate to a reparation fund operated by the Youth Job Center–that will help future generations.  

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *