ABC airs "Soul of a Nation," and Evanston reparations leaders respond to criticism.

Updated: Mar 4

Last night, March 2, ABC aired the first episode of Soul of a Nation, a six-part series and the first broadcast network newsmagazine that aims to put Black life in America front and center. Evanston's reparations initiative and Evanston residents were featured in the 10-minute segment.

Before the show aired, Lisa Laude of Lift Your Life Radio hosted a show featuring Evanston leaders and residents who have been involved in the reparations initiative from the start, as well as national leaders from N'COBRA and NAARC who are pushing for local and federal reparations, Nkechi Taifa and Kamm Howard.

"These are fighters in the work for Reparations," Laude said introducing the show and participants. "They've done the research and stayed the course, and they know what's going on. They have the information and they want to be sure that they're sharing it with our community."

Local folks were:

  • Ald. Robin Rue Simmons who introduced and shepherded the reparations resolution through City Council;

  • Dino Robinson of Shorefront Legacy Center who provided historical data to state the case for reparations and sits of the Evanston Reparations Stakeholder Authority;

  • Jared Davis, member of a legacy Evanston family to whom reparations are due, and who appears in the segment with 98-year-old Benjamin Gaines, Sr., and Benjamin Gaines, Jr. his grand-uncle and uncle. Gaines Sr. moved to Evanston in 1959.

The discussion focused on the status of Evanston's reparations

and responded to criticism by some residents -- organized as "Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations" -- that the initiative isn't headed in the right direction and who want to delay a City Council vote on the initiative, expected to happen this coming Monday, March 8, which focuses on home ownership, mortgage assistance and home improvement funds.

Watch ABC's segment below (the first few minutes are a little noisy, but that subsides).

Watch the pre-show conversation here, and read a summary of the discussion below.

Lisa Laude opened the show with a question to Nkechi Taifa, an attorney, author, scholar and activist who was an inaugural commissioner on the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) and a founding member of National Coalition Of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA).

"I'm really excited that so many people are getting excited about reparations, but the work started a long time ago. How do you feel about how we are progressing as a local community in Evanston when it comes to reparations?" Laude asked.

"Evanston is a pioneer ... a model a blueprint for some of the actions that the rest of the country could be and should be taking," Taifa replied.

"We came to Evanston, we toured the historic areas with Dino Robinson. We saw the voluminous research that had been done. And I must say, I consider it a kind of poetic justice that Evanston decided to use what will be very lucrative revenue from the legal cannabis industry to fund reparations.

This [initiative] is built on sound historical research and study in terms of the starting off point-- redlining, housing, and the like. But that's just one small part of reparations, not the end. The harm was so very multifaceted that remedy must be multifaceted as well. So this is one piece of the pie."

So it's a process, Laude added. "As you said, there are different ways that reparations will be acquired. It's not gonna happen all at once."

Housing is "just one piece of the pie." -- Nketchi Taifa, N'COBRA

Housing, said Taifa, is just one area. "There's issues with education, mass incarceration, there's issues with other aspects of the wealth gap. But strategically, I really applaud Evanston for looking at one issue and going deep."

Asked by Laude how he sees the progress of Evanston's work, and whether the City is on the right track, Kamm Howard, a 16-year member of N’COBRA and its National Male Co-Chair, said:

"NCOBRA's totally excited about local reparations actions, particularly in Evanston because it's so close to delivering the first actual local reparative initiative in the country that was targeted for specific acts of Jim Crow segregation and redlining in particular.

We think that what Evanston is doing centered around housing as a first initiative of many is really good because it has a very measurable impact on the ability of a family to increase their wealth by this infusion of downpayment assistance.