Chicago Mayor Launches Black Reparations Task Force

Black Chicagoans could see reparations in their near future, after the city’s mayor signed an executive order Monday aimed at creating a task force that will look into the massive endeavor.

The Black Reparations Co-Governance Task Force “will conduct a comprehensive study and examination of all policies that have harmed Black Chicagoans from the slavery era to present day,” and will then draft recommendations for reparations, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office said in a press release. Johnson signed the order after $500,000 in the city’s 2024 budget was set aside to study reparations.

The mayor highlighted the task force during a festive Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony Monday.

“Like many cities across this country, Chicago still bears the scars of systemic racism and injustices that have been inflicted on our communities,” Johnson said during the ceremony. “The disinvestment in our communities have been intentional. And of course, that’s why it’s imperative that it is now the time to deliver good on reparations for people of Chicago, particularly Black people.”

Read More: The Origins of Juneteenth and Why ‘Black Independence Day’ Falls on June 19th

Johnson said that highways that cut through predominantly Black neighborhoods, gun violence, health disparities, and lack of employment opportunities were just some examples of the lasting impact that racist policies have had on the Black community in Chicago. The mayor went on to apologize on behalf of the city for the “historic wrongs committed against Black people in Chicago.”

Chicago joins several cities across the U.S. that have explored a reparations program to address the impact of slavery and segregation. In 2019, Evanston became the first city in the country to enact a government-funded reparations program.

Nearly 30% of Chicago residents are Black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. During the Great Migration—which is regarded as one of the largest movements of people in U.S. history—about six million Black people relocated from the South to northern, midwestern, and western cities, including Chicago.

Johnson said that moving forward with reparations will allow Chicagoans to “begin to move in the direction of complete liberation.” He added that reparations will benefit “the entire neighborhood in which Black people exist in” by creating inclusive opportunities for the community.

Over the next three months, Johnson will work with the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus—which is made up of City Council members who represent predominantly Black communities—to figure out how task force members will be chosen, according to the executive order. After its first meeting, the task force will have a year to write a report that will include “a series of recommendations that will serve as appropriate remedies and restitution for past injustices and present harm,” as well as identify issues that may need “reparative action,” such as housing and mass incarceration.

“Reparations will be an investment in our neighborhoods and our people. Reparations will unlock the doors for prosperity to fully flow through the neighborhoods that have been disinvested in for decades,” Johnson said during the Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony. “And as we grapple with the challenges and the hard-fought victories to get to this point, we must never forget our goal: To make sure that reparations become a reality for Black residents of this city.”

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