The City of Evanston made history and drew international attention in March 2020 when it became the first municipality in the U.S. to agree to pay Black residents reparations, up to $25,000 for those affected by discriminatory housing policies and practices, which the city failed to address until the passage of fair housing laws in the 1960s.

Evanston’s efforts to address pressing issues in the Black community such as affordable housing and employment opportunities, as well as educational and learning opportunities for Black children, is a case study and, potentially, a national model – making what led to the decision and what results from it transformative questions.

Through the lens of educational justice, African American studies professor kihana miraya ross is seeking answers to these and other questions with research that combines historical and ethnographic methods to document impacts as they play out in real time. She has been awarded a $250,000 grant by the Spencer Foundation to support the project.

ross is also one of 21 recipient of the 2021 Northwestern Racial Equity and Community Partnership grant, which support ideas to solve the systemic problems of racial inequity in local neighborhoods. Awarded to Northwestern’s Department of African American Studies and STEM School Evanston, the grant will fund a project that aims to amplify the voices of Black Evanston residents in devising community-directed redress of ongoing racialized educational harm and inequities. While independent of her reparations research, the two projects are highly synergistic.

“In recognizing the debt owed to its Black residents and pledging actual dollars towards repairing centuries of educational inequities, Evanston is in unchartered waters. The world will be watching as the first city in the U.S. to approve reparations embarks on an unparalleled move toward educational justice for its Black residents,” said ross, describing the moment as an unprecedented research opportunity. The project will inform ross’s second book and may be the subject of a feature-length documentary.

Among its many components, the research will include oral histories focusing on the stories of Evanston community members who attended Foster School, an all-Black neighborhood elementary school in the 5th Ward. Foster’s closure in the 1960s spurred a decades-long fight to reopen the school that continues today. The oral histories will be made public and donated to the existing African American Oral Histories collection at Shorefront Legacy Center.  

Professor ross’s previous research examines the multiplicity of ways that anti-blackness is lived by Black students in what she calls “the afterlife of school segregation,” a framework illuminating the ways in which Black students remain systematically dehumanized and positioned as uneducable long after the end of legal segregation of schools.

“While anchored in the stories emerging and developing in Evanston, this study will build on recent developments in literature on educational equity that have highlighted the specificity of Black students’ experiences in U.S. schools, and contribute empirically to understanding the ways anti-blackness has functioned historically and contemporarily to structure the lives of Black folks across the country,” ross said.

This article first appeared in Northwestern Now and is reprinted with permission from the author.

 

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  1. America Must Pay!!!

    Today is the day for America to finally redress the 156-years arrears to African Americans for committing the most atrocious kidnapping, murder, rape, family destruction and forced labor crimes ever committed against human beings in the total history of the world!

    The injustices of slavery is made worse by the international outrage that we are still fighting for reparation for the slavery!

    Slavery was no holiday. Slavery was 89,790 days of catastrophic human torture! Slavery was 100% about money for America with unmistakable depraved indifference to the torture and suffering of the slaves!

    Bible scriptures were actually deformed and Jesus’s Holy Name was abused to justify and sanctify the protracted hellish exploitation of the slaves!!!

    Today, Black people are still in the absolute worst condition in America and on earth! So, what is there to celebrate? Therefore, in lieu of the worthless Juneteenth holiday settlement, the US Government must immediately pay the $4,325,829.56 America legally and morally owes (156 years PAST DUE) to all American descendants of slaves for promptly making America the richest and most powerful country on earth!!!

    The unquestionable reason America is the richest and most powerful country on earth is slavery. Yet, except for Native Americans, we as descendants of our African slave ancestors are still the poorest people in America and absolutely the poorest on earth!

    For example, according to the United Nations, the United States consistently receives, exceedingly by far, more immigrants than any other country on earth. Further, according to the US Department of State, the largest number of legal immigrants come from China. Why? Because America is the richest and most powerful country on earth.

    In other words, America fiendishly conducted and condoned the most disturbing and deadly system of slavery on earth and, as a result, became the “Land of opportunity”…opportunity for “The American dream” for everybody except African Americans!

    According to the Government’s own web site (foreignassistance.gov), the US Government has so much money, Congress literally gives away more than $117,218,261.15 EVERY SINGLE DAY to other countries due to America’s incalculable profits from slavery! Congress gives most of the free money to Israel.

    Today, African Americans are still by far the most racially discriminated, oppressed and denied of justice than any other people in America and the whole world!

    Demand the US Government pay African Americans $4,325,829.56 reparations, now!!!

    Clinton L. Black
    Author and descendant of African slaves in America