Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Evanston Reparations Fund to be deposited in Black-owned Liberty Bank

Daily file illustration by Lily Ogburn
Effective immediately, a minimum of $17 million will be deposited into Liberty Bank from the Evanston Reparations Fund.

The Reparations Committee announced that it will deposit the Evanston Reparations Fund into Liberty Bank, one of the largest Black-owned banks in America, at the committee’s Thursday meeting. 

A minimum of $17 million will begin to be deposited over time.

“Seventeen million dollars in a Black bank is going to give more lending power and access to Black businesses, Black mortgages and other forms of support,” Committee Chair Robin Rue Simmons said. 

The fund currently supports initiatives like the Restorative Housing Program, which aims to increase homeownership, build wealth and intergenerational equity among the city’s Black residents and improve the retention of Black homeowners in the city.

Simmons called the partnership “the biggest deal since the passing of Resolution 126-R-19 in 2019,” which established both the Reparations Fund and Reparations Committee. 

This announcement comes against the backdrop of both the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and a bill making its way through the Tennessee State Legislature that prohibits local governments from funding studies of or disbursing reparations. 

The ancestor recipients — adult residents of Evanston between 1919 and 1969 — have received approximately $3 million in reparations, according to Assistant to the City Manager Tasheik Kerr. Direct descendants of ancestors have received almost $1.6 million.

The committee also heard a research proposal from political science Prof. Twyla Blackmond Larnell of Loyola University Chicago. Larnell spoke about ways to best support Black entrepreneurs by identifying racial patterns in Evanston’s business activity. 

Larnell said her research will be closely modeled after a 1996 study about local business disparities in Evanston. She will expand on the study by taking into account additional aspects that have a large impact on Black businesses. This includes the status of Evanston’s racial economic disparities and how the issue has evolved over time. The committee unanimously approved Larnell’s proposal.

Larnell hopes her research will go beyond being just published. Instead, she said she wants to create evidence-based recommendations for the city that can withstand scrutiny in court systems.

The committee also received an update from the reparations program’s construction administrator, Michael Dykes. Dykes collaborates with reparations recipients who want to improve their homes. He and Simmons stressed their vision for home improvements and repairs to be done by Black contractors, adding economic benefits to the Black community. 

“All of our contractors are local, and all of them are Black,” Dykes said. 

He hopes this will help promote economic activity within Evanston’s Black community. 

Larnell said Evanston needs enough resources to maintain the city’s Black population so that they can open and support Black businesses.

“We have seen — not just in Evanston, but this whole entire area — an exodus of Black residents, business owners, etcetera,” Larnell said. “This has economic ramifications for the Black community, but it also has political ramifications for the Black community.”

Clarification: This article has been updated to better reflect the timeframe of fund deposits. 

Email: [email protected]

Related Stories:

Evanston residents set to receive reparations for housing discrimination

NU-led survey finds support for Evanston reparations 

Evanston Reparations Committee addresses payment concerns at latest meeting Evanston Reparations Committee addresses payment concerns

More to Discover