Chicago Area Efforts on Reparations and the Racial Wealth Gap

The report concluded that the policies, practices and patterns of racism “had a material effect on occupations, education, wealth and property; and for every generation that encountered discrimination and segregation in Evanston, it there was another one that followed, and another.”

The impact was “cumulative and permanent”, the report says, and “the means by which legacies were limited and negated”.

As opportunities for African Americans were compromised, white residents had more than a century of head start in creating wealth.

Study co-author and Shorefront founder Dino Robinson says many people are surprised to learn of the city’s racial history, given its reputation for being diverse and progressive.

“But when you drive, you see a distinct difference in neighborhoods,” he says. “You see the segregation that has existed here for generations. Some people have turned a blind eye. Others have been through this story but are so tired of fighting it that somehow they have given up or accepted that as This report simply reminds people that we are no different than any other community in the United States.

Redlining was banned by the Fair Housing Act in 1968, but recent surveys and analysis have revealed an ongoing practice of redlining and discrimination in home appraisals across the country.

Evanston resident Justin Marcoviche-Garnett, the great-grandson of Irene and Winfield Garnett, said the red line over the decades his family bought homes in Evanston shaped how they felt with regard to home ownership.

“My family wanted to be able to choose the neighborhood they lived in,” he says. “They wanted options for where they could spend their money.”

When her great-grandparents were making plans for a new house in 1926, they had to build it in the 5th arrondissement, says Marcoviche-Garnett. The two-story house still stands on Dewey Avenue.

The couple paid in cash because lenders at the time regularly refused mortgages to black applicants.

Marcoviche-Garnett says her family did not apply for a restorative housing grant, but may seek repairs in the future. He has joined the board of directors of the Reparations Stakeholders Authority in Evanston, which raises funds for repairs and will distribute grants separately from the city.


Sutton, whose grandparents’ home was forcibly relocated, says redlining, rezoning and other discriminatory actions have placed families like hers at a great disadvantage.

Her grandparents had no recourse when a 1921 zoning ordinance converted the area where their home was located from residential to commercial, causing homes owned by black residents to move into the 5th Ward.

The Suttons’ house was moved near the railroad tracks and a sanitary canal, where the lots were smaller and many streets were unpaved. Some of their new neighbors lacked running water.

The house sold in 2017 for around $152,000.

Searching real estate website Zillow, Sutton found that homes in their former neighborhood now sell for between $450,000 and $1 million.

Sutton now sits on Evanston’s repair committee.

“If nothing else, the city needs to know how families have been disadvantaged by their policies,” says Sutton, a retired teacher and community activist who applied but was not selected in the first round of 16 grants. . “Reparations would be a way to prove that they changed their policies.”

An early attempt at redress in the United States came in 1865, when U.S. Army General William Tecumseh Sherman ordered the redistribution of confiscated Confederate lands from formerly enslaved blacks – the so-called “40-acre pledge and a mule”, which was not kept. .

More than 120 years later, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, which issued a formal apology and $1.6 billion in reparations – $20,000 each – to approximately 82,000 Japanese Americans forced into United States internment camps during World War II.

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