Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, gathered with nine of Evanston’s Black community leaders, educators and activists at 2 p.m. on Aug. 23 at Fountain Square to announce a proclamation for Black justice. Twenty Black organizations endorsed and supported the proclamation by affixing their names to the document. Support for the proclamation is not, however, limited to the named organizations.
The presentation was organized by the Education Sub-Committee for Reparations.
“Reparations committee members had done such an amazing work over the last several months. And I was excited for them to be able to share with the community, especially now as we are going into the fall school year. I just asked that we convene all of the stakeholders in town – the historically Black organizations and institutions and other organizations that are focused on the collective Black experience in Evanston. We worked together to convene this group. On one accord, I’m really excited about this statement, and excited about the ally community support,” said Ald. Simmons in a conversation with the RoundTable.
Henry Wilkins, who has for the past two years spearheaded the initiative to bring a STEM-specific school to the Fifth Ward, introduced the event speakers, beginning with the authors of the proclamation.
“The writers consisted of Evanston NAACP president Reverend Dr. Michael Nabors, community member Dr. Bessie Mbadugha, and Northwestern professor Dr. Kihana Ross,” said Mr. Wilkins. The authors read the proclamation serially, beginning with Rev. Dr. Nabors. The document states as follows:
A Proclamation for Black Justice from the Evanston Black Community in Response to the Urgency of the Time
“While there has been recent national and international support for Black Lives Matter and for grassroots protests against racism in every form, there remain a pernicious and egregious anti-Blackness throughout our Nation. It has become increasingly evident that we must all rise to meet the challenges of anti-Black racism and injustices against Black people in our own local communities. Our commitment to the eradication of anti-Black racism in every public form in Evanston, necessitates identifying and rooting out all structural, institutional and systemic discrimination.
“We therefore stand united and engage collaboratively and collectively to resist the incessant and unrelenting anti-Blackness in our society via the following efforts: to bring attention to violence suffered by Black people as a result of a long history of anti-Black racism, and
“We also engage to stop the violence by naming anti-Black racism and its ancillary attachments, creating and sustain programs and providing resources, and
“We therefore engage to confront low income and indigence in the Black community as products of a long history of racialized economic terror and anti-Black policies and practices, and
“We also engage to introduce innovative programs to increase upward mobility for Black people and families, subsequently ending low income and indigence, and
“We therefore engage to name racial terror that remains prevalent in infrastructure, housing policies and practices, public school curriculum, higher education practices, ecological and geographic locations, law enforcement policies and practices, economic oppression, political appointments, voting rights, as well as business and corporate policies and practices, and
“We also engage to develop tactical and strategic teams and processes to end such racial terror in each of these areas, working with and advising each area for the benefit of Black independence, self-determination and empowerment, and
“We therefore engage to highlight the significant disparities in healthcare and wellness, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how Black people are dying disproportionately due to factors that can and must be addressed, and
“We also engage to establish wholesale partnerships with medical centers and the healthcare industry to promote preventative and intervention education programs, to supplement healthcare costs and to ensure the health, wellness and safety of Black people employed in what have been deemed essential worker occupations and,
“We also engage to declare that the youth in our communities are our collective responsibility, regardless of organizational affiliation or lack thereof, and
“We also engage to bring attention to Black families’ historical and ongoing fight for opportunity and justice in our public schools, and the critical role that out-of-school and community spaces play in providing learning and educational opportunities for our children. We thus conceptualize learning and education as extending beyond the traditional institution of schooling for Black students and their families, and
“We therefore engage to hold all agencies serving our youth accountable, and call on these agencies to utilize their resources to challenge anti-Blackness, anti-Black racism and anti-Black violence in all its form, and
“We therefore engage to declare our support for reparations for Black community members to begin the process of economic redress for the historical theft of wealth and opportunity. We recognize reparations as a policy that confronts the legacy of anti-Blackness specifically, and takes aim at anti-Black policies and practices that have facilitated the racial inequities of our current moment, and
“We finally engage that the tenets of this Proclamation for Black justice will be endorsed and supported by, but not limited to, existing Black organizations in Evanston whose names are affixed hereto.”
The proclamation is signed by Minority Business Consortium; ABC (African Black Caribbean D65 Parents); Chessmen Club of The North Shore; Community Alliance for Better Government; Evanston (IL) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; Delta Xi Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority; Alpha Mu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; Evanston Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; Evanston Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.;
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; Evanston-North Shore Alumnae Chapter
NUBAA (Northwestern University Black Alumni Association); Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Evanston-North Shore Alumna Chapter; Evanston Black male Alliance; Evanston Cricket & Social Club, Ltd.; FAAM (Fellowship of African American Men); Evanston/North Shore NAACP; Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti; OPAL (Organization for Positive Action and Leadership); Foster Senior Club; Shorefront Legacy Center
Other speakers included Dr. Gilo Logan, Dr. Nichole Pinkard, Carlis Sutton, Damita Cravens and Tasha Nemo. Meleika Gardner of Evanston Live TV assisted in coordinating the event.