Editor’s note: To read about other action the Equity and Empowerment Commission took on the new Manager of Organizational Performance and Equity position, please click here.

The Equity and Empowerment Commission decided this week it will attend Monday, Nov. 21 City Council meeting to support Black city employees, who have publicly complained about systemic racism in their workplace.  

Darlene Cannon

Eighth Ward City Council Member Devon Reid, who was at the Commission meeting, said that the City Council plans to discuss the group’s report during the Nov. 21 City Council meeting. But he was reluctant to share more details because information is still unfolding. 

Commissioner Darlene Cannon suggested the Commission be there to support the Evanston Black Employees Action Group, as it is expected the city will discuss the issues brought up by the group in an explosive 39-page letter, report and action plan they released Nov. 2. It outlines more than 60 examples of alleged racial discrimination throughout 11 departments in the city. 

It also provides the city with an action plan and specific steps to take. 

“I think we need to listen to the employees,” Commissioner Omar Salem said. “They laid out a very, very thorough and clear timeline and action plan. And I’m of the opinion, they know better than anyone else what’s happening in the city and what will work.”

The anonymous group’s members represent more than 33 current city employees from 11 departments, and most of the members have worked for the city for a decade or more, the group says. 

Karla Thomas, pictured during an Equity and Empowerment Commission meeting in March 2022 Credit: Submitted

During Monday night’s City Council meeting, supporters of the Black city employees filled up the public comment period. A total of 16 of the 29 public comments during the meeting referenced the group’s report.

The Commissioners also discussed affordable housing ordinances that it supports and how to best continue to get more community leaders on board with their support.  

Co-Chairperson Karla Thomas also said that the Commission has received eight applications for its open seat. The mayor is expected to select the next commissioner soon. 

Gina Castro

Gina Castro is a Racial Justice fellow for the Evanston RoundTable. She recently earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she studied investigative...

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