Alderman Robin Rue Simmons told her colleagues Monday night that the thousands of local government officials at last week’s National League of Cities meeting “were in awe of us” when members of the Evanston delegation described the racial reparations program City Council now has adopted.

The program, given final approval Monday night, calls for devoting up to $10 million to be collected from the 3 percent city tax on recreational cannabis sales to programs intended to compensate for redlining and other government and private sector activities that discriminated against blacks.

In addition, voluntary contributions will be solicited for the fund set up under the program.

How the funds will be disbursed remains to be determined.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, who also attended the NLC meeting in San Antonio, said she “didn’t hear of even one city that was doing anything along these lines.”

“There’s a lot of talk of equity and diversity, but nobody was talking about reparations except for us,” Rainey added.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said he was really excited by the vote, and noted that Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, his predecessor as 2nd Ward alderman, had been pushing for a reparations program as early as 2002.

Addressing Rue Simmons, Braithwaite said Jean-Baptiste told him “he lacked your fortitude” to see the project through.

Braithwaite said the program would be “very special for Evanston” and would have a ripple effect that should create change across the nation.

Tom Suffredin.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, cast the only vote against the measure. He made no statement indicating the reason for his vote, but he also cast votes against the city and library property tax levies and  the city budget Monday night.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I applaud Ald Suffredin.  All

    I applaud Ald Suffredin.  All I can think of is Martin Luther King’s , I have a Dream speech:  “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.:”

    Reparations flies right in the face of Martin Luther King.

  2. Maybe they are trying to tell you something?

    Hmmm… ‘they were in awe of us.’  ‘”…didn’t hear of even one city that was doing anything along these lines.”

    Get it?  Because normal cities have other priorities to deal with, like unfunded pensions, infrastructure and well being of their residents.  I applaud Evanston’s progressive approach… but honestly the timing of this is bad… and frankly a little ridiculous this late in the game.  Those cannabis tax earnings need to benefit Evanston… all of Evanston.  Not reparations.  Stop fighting.

  3. Evanston Reparations

    “”were in awe of us”   Yes that describes the feelings of many who were in awe of your monumental stupidity.  None of you have thought this through.  Get ready for the lawsuits and the waste of taxpayer dollars defending them.

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