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In a move that Rabbi Andrea London describes as “putting their money where their mouth is,” a consortium representing 16 leaders of faith institutions in Evanston will announce Monday, June 13, their intent to participate in local reparations.

“We feel, as religious communities, our communities should be offering financial support for reparations within Evanston,” said London, senior rabbi at Beth Emet Synagogue, one of the faith institutions leading the event.

Rabbi Andrea London heads Beth Emet synagogue

Several community leaders will speak and explain what their congregation, synagogue, ministries, parishes and/or communities are doing for reparations on noon. Monday in Fountain Square downtown.

The group will include messages from Mayor Daniel Biss, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9th), Dino Robinson and former City Council member Robin Rue Simmons. The clergy will present a statement about the importance of the work and their commitments to it. The event will conclude with the signing of documents to show commitment and unity.

“We really believe in creating a just society and eradicating racism in our midst, that we need to pony up in terms of contributing some money ourselves and not just relying on the city to do so,” London said.

Faith communities will announce on June 13 a commitment to participate in Evanston’s reparations effort. Credit: Submitted

The religious leaders also feel a moral responsibility toward reconciliation and repair because the harm that’s been done “isn’t just financial.” Faith groups hope to do this through education and storytelling – concentrating on discrimination in Evanston, specifically, London said.

The money will be collected through the Evanston Reparations Community Fund, housed by the Evanston Community Foundation and overseen by the Reparations Stakeholders Authority of Evanston – a collaboration of prominent city leaders established by former Council member Rue Simmons, Robinson, the Rev. Michael Nabors, Pastor Monté Dillard, Second Ward Council Member Peter Braithwaite, Henry Wilkins and Spencer Jourdain.

While many faith institutions have already contributed to the Evanston Reparations Community Fund, Monday will mark the first time members of Evanston Interfaith Clergy and Leaders make a joint financial commitment. They hope to encourage other faith groups in Evanston to join the effort to donate.

“Several congregations have already raised in the tens of thousands of dollars, and 16 congregations have committed to this,” London said. “We’re hopeful that it’s going to really be a significant amount of money that the religious community will raise”

Robin Rue Simmons Credit: Genie Lemieux

London said Black congregations are not included in the fundraising goals because the group felt it was the responsibility of the white faith community.

Monday’s announcement, it is hoped, will reinvigorate financial momentum of other faith institutions donations. The group hopes that, by the Rev. Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 16, 2023, they can reflect and say, this is what we accomplished. This is how much money we’ve raised.

London told the Roundtable that when the Evanston Reparations Community Fund was established, its goal was to raise $10 million to match the $10 million the city approved through a cannabis user tax.

“We also hope that people are gonna look to Evanston and say, ‘Hey, you know, this little town of less than 80,000 people is committing to raising and distributing $20 million,’ ” London said.

Debbie-Marie Brown

Debbie-Marie Brown is a reporter and Racial Justice Fellow at the Evanston RoundTable. They cover the local reparations initiative, Black life in Evanston, and the 5th ward. Contact Debbie-Marie at dmb@evanstonroundtable.com...

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