Dr. Ron Daniels, Convener of the National African American Reparations Commission - NAARC, announced this morning in a news release that NAARC will convene national symposium in Evanston, December 9 to 11, for community-based advocates/stakeholders, elected officials, and academic and philanthropic partners working on municipal reparatory justice initiatives.
The symposium will be hosted by FirstRepair, the organization founded by Robin Rue Simmons, former Evanston City Council member credited with being the architect and champion of the Evanston Reparations Initiative.
Evanston has gained national and international attention as the first city-wide reparations program in the United States.
In August of 2020, NAARC certified the Evanston Reparations Initiative as a model for municipal reparations that can be replicated across the country.
The symposium, according to the release, is designed for participants to gain first-hand knowledge about the background, historical basis, evolution, and process that led to Evanston emerging as the first municipality to award reparations to eligible African American residents.
The event will begin with a tour of Evanston by Dino Robinson, founder of Shorefront Legacy Center. The tour will highlight Evanston's historically Black neighborhoods, redlining, and other racially discriminating practices.
The tour will serve as background for a series of working sessions, which will be held at Faith Temple Evanston, for participants to learn more about the Evanston Reparations model and share their experiences building municipal reparatory justice initiatives in various cities.
City Council Member Peter Braithwaite, chair of the Evanston reparations committee and the members and staff of the committee will serve as resources for the symposium.
The symposium will also include a National Town Hall meeting at First Church of God Christian Life Center where local residents will have an opportunity to interact with leading reparations advocates and leaders in the U.S. and globally.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, lead sponsor of HR-40, the Congressional bill that will establish a National Reparations Commission, has been invited as the meeting's special guest.
Daniel's says organizers hope to duplicate the inspirational spirit of the Town Hall Meeting in December 2019 that helped build momentum for the Evanston Reparations Initiative.
“We want this gathering to be a learning and sharing experience for the amazing leaders that are part of the rapidly growing municipal reparations movement,” he said.
“We hope to create a national network among advocates working on reparations at the local level and to establish a national resource center for municipal reparations in Evanston administrated by FirstRepair.”
The symposium is limited to 50 participants and partners from around the country to create an intimate, roundtable atmosphere conducive to quality sharing and interaction.
Organizers hope the symposium will be the first in a series of such gatherings, given the number of municipal reparations initiatives that are springing up across the country. By establishing a national resource center, Daniels said, Evanston could become the focal point for a national municipal reparations movement.
Kamm Howard, national co-chair, National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (N'COBRA), has spent considerable time meeting and working with community stakeholders and members of Evanston's City Council providing advice on the process of implementing the Reparations program.
“This gathering is the next logical and radical step, laying the foundation for synchronizing local reparations in the U.S.," Howard said in the release. "It requires our collective thoughts on the purpose, goals, and objectives of local reparations to proliferate around the country. "
Local leaders, said Rue Simmons, need tools, resources, thought partners and best practices to support their Black communities in advancing reparations.
"As local leaders call for Congress to pass HR40, we're also building a powerful movement and process for
reparatory justice locally. The experts are living in every historically Black neighborhood in this country," she said. "Reparations is a process, not a transaction. This symposium will support us on the road to improving and expanding our goals within our own communities."