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Robin Rue Simmons: “It must start. That’s how you seek reparations. You start.”


As the fight for reparations for the descendants of enslaved African Americans stalls at the federal level, state and local officials are taking matters into their own hands. California’s Reparations Task Force released a 500-page report detailing the harms done to Black residents. The report made recommendations ranging from reforms in policing to housing grants for Black families that were forced from their homes to make way for various state projects like freeways and parks. Last year, the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois famously became one of the first cities to issue reparations to its own Black residents. Former Alderman Robin Rue Simmons – who spearheaded that program – tells Sam Stein, “we started with housing, but it’s important to note that the Black community is looking for all forms of repair – housing grants, cash payments, business grants, access to education, and healthcare”. Dr. Robert Patterson, professor and inaugural chair for the Department of African American Studies at Georgetown University and author of the upcoming book "Black Equity, Black Equality: Reparation and Black Communities”, praises the California Reparations Task Force’s report saying “it makes the explicit connection from slavery to Reconstruction to Jim Crow to the contemporary moment where there are state and federal policies that intentionally and actively discriminated against Black communities that actually have caused these education gaps that have caused these wealth disparities.”