Chicago Suburb To Become 1st US City To Pay Reparations To Black Residents

CBS News correspondent Femi Redwood shares the details.

Video Transcript

- A Chicago suburb will become the first US city to pay reparations to Black families. Supporters say it's a step toward justice for residents who suffer from the lingering effects of slavery and many who experience housing discrimination.

- But critics say the new program excludes a big portion of families. Reporter Femi Redwood has more.

FEMI REDWOOD: For decades, Black families in Evanston, Illinois could only live in this red area, a practice known as redlining. Now, in an eight to one vote, city officials have agreed to a reparations program that would pay $400,000 to Black residents harmed by discriminatory housing practices between 1900 and 1959. Vanessa Johnson-McCoy says her parents struggled to find a home in the 1950s.

VANESSA JOHNSON-MCCOY: The banks would not allow them to-- they wouldn't give them money to buy outside of this area. It was very challenging.

FEMI REDWOOD: Evanston's program offers eligible families up to $25,000, which can be used for things like home repairs, down payments, or mortgage payments.

VANESSA JOHNSON-MCCOY: Anything that can be done to help repair that is great. And it's deserved, and it's overdue.

FEMI REDWOOD: Support for local and national reparations appears to be growing. At least four US cities are considering following Evanston's lead, and so is the Episcopal Church. Several dioceses have publicly stated they were founded by money accumulated through slavery.

But there is pushback, even from Black residents. An Evanston city council member who oppose the program says it's paternalistic.

CICELY FLEMING: What we are missing here is allowing the people to dictate the terms of how they are repared. Instead of cash payments or other options that respect the humanity and self-determination of Black people and allow them to determine how best to repair themselves, the housing program is restrictive.

FEMI REDWOOD: The group Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations agrees.

SEBASTION NALLS: It leaves out a whole demographic of individuals who can no longer use this program. Senior citizens who no longer have a home. If you qualify and you have moved out of Evanston, you can still receive the $25,000. But you have to spend that money inside of Evanston.

FEMI REDWOOD: They say it would be more accurate to call it a housing program and not reparations. Femi Redwood, CBS News, New York.

- The program in Evanston is being funded through donations and revenues from a sales tax on recreational marijuana.