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Evanston's City Council names portion of Church street Morris 'Dino' Robinson, Jr. Way.
The designation honors Robinson, who founded Shorefront Legacy Center in 1995, for the time, talent, and energy he has devoted to gathering stories, photos, facts, artifacts, and memorabilia from local African American residents--many of whose parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other family members escaped oppressive economic conditions, lynchings and other horrors of the south--who settled in Evanston and the North Shore during the Great Migration. Dino is an archivist, advocate, activist and teacher. He's written many of the stories and family biographies in Shorefront's Journal. In 2019, he presented before the Evanston Preservation Commission and the Evanston City Council to call for theFamily Focus Evanston building (formerly Foster School) at 2010 Dewey St. to receive landmark status to protect it from being sold or demolished (the status was granted). Recently, Robinson worked with the City to designate eight African American sites in Evanston with historical markers to link the history of African Americans in Evanston to the vibrant community that exists in the city today. Much of Robinson's work over the years provided the foundation for Evanston's reparations initiative, the first reparations effort in the nation. Dino Robinson is someone you should know. Read my 2019 interview with him here: bit.ly/3a6UqXK. Make sure to visit Shorefront. It's open for visitors by arrangement. Check out its website at shorefrontlegacy.org. You can contribute to support Dino's work on the website. And while you're here, contribute to the reparations fund that's administered by a group of Black Evanston leaders and chaired by Dino Robinson. The group is the Reparations Stakeholder Authority of Evanston. The fund is held by the Evanston Community Foundation. Contribute here: bit.ly/ReparationsECF
Pastor Monte Dillard Sr. 10th Anniversary
First Church of God Congregants celebrate Monte Dillard's 10 years as Pastor and Community Leader _________ Last Saturday, First Church of God Christian Life Center's congregation celebrated Pastor Monte' L. G. Dillard, Sr.'s 10th anniversary leading the church and his civic leadership in Evanston. Of course, because of the pandemic, the celebration was virtual, with a (very!) long car parade past the church, at 1524 Simpson St., led by Evanston Police Department cars and Evanston Fire Department trucks. Pastor Dillard, among his many roles in Evanston, is a chaplain with EFD. He also serves on the City's Equity and Empowerment Commission and on the Reparations Stakeholders Authority, a group of Black leaders and community members that will administer reparations funds. First Church of God was the venue for the first Reparations Town Hall, which took place in December 2019. Before the parade, I spoke to Pastor Dillard and asked him what the past 10 years have meant to him. "The last decade has been an amazing journey. Moving my family to the Evanston community, getting integrated initially as the leader of my congregation, and now having been able to be a leader in our community has been tremendous," he said. I asked him what challenges and accomplishments he's seen in Evanston in the past decade. "Evanston is a community of tremendous accomplishments and promise. Like anywhere, there are still things where we're working out, but I'm proud of the upward trajectory that that our church, and myself as a leader, and our city, has been able to continue to accomplish," he said. "One of the things I've appreciated about the city of Evanston, is that the acknowledgement level, though probably challenging to get there on some levels, has these last several years seemed to be something that people are willing to get to. Until we first say hey, these are problems, we can't begin to put the action steps necessary towards fixing them. A lot of communities live in denial. They reject acknowledgement, they refuse to acknowledge that certain realities are true for certain people. I appreciate that the city of Evanston has shown itself to not shy away from acknowledgement. I'm not here to suggest that we do that perfectly, but I'm proud to see the things that I've seen and been able to be a part of it this last 10 years." I asked Pastor Dillard how he feels work toward reparations in Evanston in progressing. "I think that our city being a model, having been the first city to pass that reparations work, will go down in history as one thing that we will always be known for," he said. "I think the progress in many ways has been right, what it will be for anybody who is creating a blueprint as you go. This was a new trail being blazed. So you have to craft it and curate it and created as you go. The truth is, whenever you're the first to do something, you're writing the playbook. Hopefully the learnings that the city of Evanston has had through this process, other cities will be able to benefit from. Whenever you are trailblazers, you kind of grow as you go." Lifelong resident Leticia Barge, 72, was on hand for the celebration. She lives at Jacob Blake Manor, which she chose because it's walking distance to the church. "I've never sat up under a more annointed man," she said of Pastor Dillard. "I have learned so much. He has taught me to apply the word, live the word, and allow the word to change me. He's such a valuable asset to Evanston." Minister Neticia Waldron, a member of First Church and author of "Worship and Warfare: A Navigational Tool for Spiritual Victory," said Pastor Dillard is wise beyond his years. "He has a lot of influence in our community and we come with excitement to say thank you for his dedicated service. He has shown us that even if you're young you can do it. He brings hope, and charisma, and confidence that all things are possible," she said. ________ Watch a clip from the first Reparations Town Hall here: facebook.com/watch/?v=474179746565383 Watch the entire first Reparations Town Hall here: youtube.com/watch?v=vsTyypyz9ZQ Read about Evanston Cradle to Career's Advocates for Action program and Pastor Dillard's guiding role with this group of community leaders: http://bit.ly/2Ydq2o0. Read about the HELPS conference Pastor Dillard holds each year to encourage everyone to live to their fullest potential, whether they are cut out to serve as leaders, or to contribute behind the scenes: youtube.com/watch?v=9GIgckFhJaQ
UPDATE: Help raise $10,000 for Evanston's reparations.
UPDATE: Help raise $10,000 for Evanston's reparations. As of 2 p.m. Sunday, January 17, we have raised $5,291 for the Evanston Reparations Community Fund. An Evanston resident has offered to match the next $1,000 in contributions until tomorrow at 11 a.m. If you're a white or non-Black Evanston resident and you haven't already, please consider contributing to this effort now to support Reparations in Evanston. __________ Dear Evanston, Tomorrow, January 16, is my birthday, and like last year, I’m marking it by asking friends (white and non-Black) to support Evanston’s Reparations Fund by contributing toward making redress and repairing past and current harm caused to Evanston’s Black families, Black neighborhoods, Black institutions, and Black businesses. Our friends. Our neighbors. Our co-workers. Evanston's reparations fund is a starting point for addressing the long (and continuing) legacy of systemic racism and oppression in the city. As just one example, Evanston’s white families out-earn Black families by $46,000. Many of Evanston’s Black families, who have been here four and five generations-- their ancestors having fled racial terror in the south--are being forced to leave Evanston because they’re being priced out. Evanston's Black residents are also over-policed, under-resourced, their children continue to face an opportunity gap at school, and our Black friends have a shorter life expectancy than white residents. Last year, thanks to everyone’s contributions, we raised $2,500. But my goal this year is greater: I hope to raise $10,000 or more. Since last year, when Evanston was the first City in the country to pass its resolution, the local Reparations movement has gained steam, and with Evanston as their role model, other cities in the US have passed reparations resolutions. But to date, Evanston is the only government entity that has identified a funding stream: three percent of the tax from cannabis sales, which became legal in Illinois last January, is transferred directly into the City's reparations fund to support homeownership and economic development. But I believe strongly that it's also incumbent on white and non-Black Evanston residents, regardless of how long we've lived here, to contribute to reparations (financially and with action). Recently, a new fund was established, held by the Evanston Community Foundation, which will be managed by The Reparations Authority of Evanston, a group of stakeholders, Black leaders and community members, that's currently being formed. To contribute: -- Click bit.ly/ReparationsECF -- Make your contribution -- In the "notes" section, mention my birthday fundraiser. You can also send your contribution by check to: Evanston Community Foundation 1560 Sherman Avenue Suite 535 Evanston, IL 60201 On the Memo line, write: Nina Kavin fundraiser/ECRF To kick off this fundraiser, I spoke to 5th ward Ald. Robin Rue Simmons, who introduced the reparations resolution to Evanston’s City Council last year, and to Dino Robinson, founder and executive director of Shorefront Legacy Center, whose years of research and gathering of stories and artifacts from Black families in Evanston and on the North Shore was, and continues to be, instrumental in shaping Evanston's reparations initiative. Please watch the whole video! Questions? Don't hesitate to email me. Finally: please don't request a tax deduction for this contribution. This is not charity. This is our responsibility (as is continuing to support Black organizations and Black businesses). Thanks so much for reading, for celebrating my birthday with me, and for supporting reparations in Evanston. If you'd like to learn more about why reparations and other racial justice work is close to my heart, you can read the presentation I gave recently to a symposium in Amherst, MA, which also just passed a Reparations resolution: bit.ly/AmherstPresentation. Finally: On January 4, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee re-introduced H.R. 40, a bill that would fund a committee to explore whether Black Americans should receive reparations for enslavement. This bill must pass. Federal Reparations are long, long, long overdue!
Jeron Dorsey talks about generosity, community, and his journey.
Jeron Dorsey: Like a Rock ___________ When Jeron Dorsey was a kid, his mom nicknamed him "Rock." He thinks it's because he had a big head. Or maybe because his head was hard. He's not sure. Regardless, starting in fourth grade, Jeron's friends started calling him Rock too, and the name stuck. Today, at 31, Dorsey is the program director at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center. He has two small children, three months to go till he receives his MA in Sports Management from Northwestern University, and is highly respected as a role model by many in the Evanston community. With firm determination he has made his way, weathered adversities along the road, and realizes that his nickname--once attributed to his big, hard head, is now more a tribute to his big, soft, but solid heart. "Now it kind of symbolizes something different, you know, and people are making me realize that," he said when we chatted via Zoom this afternoon. ________ I've known Jeron for about three years, mostly because he's the person with whom I book the Fleetwood-Jourdain auditorium for the Dear Evanston Racial Justice Book group, and he's there to set it up and respond to all our group's needs. Even through our fairly minimal contact, I've always sensed he was special. But when I received an email from him on New Year's Eve telling me that he wanted to donate his entire $2,500 paycheck and a bunch of gift cards to the Jackson family, who a week earlier had lost their apartment and almost everything in it as a result of an early-morning fire, I knew he was a true mensch*. Jeron had heard some details about the fire from an Evanston Police Department officer who was at the scene and who went into action to mobilize support for the family. But a few days later he read the whole story about Mayra and Latwian Jackson and their two young sons in the Dear Evanston newsletter. "It actually brought me to tears," Jeron said. I was so taken with Jeron's generosity that I posted about it here on January 1. To date, the post has been seen by 22,000 people, 'liked' almost 700 times, and shared 127 times. "Well I definitely wasn't expecting that," Jeron, who isn't on Facebook laughed. I wanted to ask Jeron why he thought his action made such an impression on so many people and to find out what inspired him to such kindness. We talked about this ... and about a lot more.
NAACP news conference:D65, Fri, Oct. 9, 2020
It seems so obvious to me: until we can open schools completely, it makes common sense to allow children in Evanston who are marginalized, whose families are lower-income (in Evanston that's predominantly Black and brown families), who may not have the supports at home to provide a conducive virtual learning experience to be prioritized for in-person learning in school buildings. But that plan, pushed forward by Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Devon Horton and the D65 school board headed by Anya Wiley Tanyavutti, has elicited letters of hate locally and nationally--including death threats. Yesterday, Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors, president, Evanston/North Shore Branch NAACP, along with local clergy and community leaders, held a news conference to show support for the District's plan and to condemn racism and hate. Channel 5 covered the news conference. You can watch it here: http://nbcchicago.com/.../controversy-erupts.../2351819/ I was there too. Here's my video. The sound (masks, background noise, iPhone) is not good. So here too is a transcript of some of the folks I spoke to, and Pastor Nabors' statement. Monique Brunson Jones, President and CEO, Evanston Community Foundation: "The Foundation obviously supports district 65, obviously supports Dr. Horton and his work to make sure that we close up the achievement gap." Rabbi Rachel Weiss, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation - JRC: "I am here because access to public eduction, economic justice, and antiracism are all Jewish values, to make sure that those in our community are taken care of who need it the most. We are a community that is so broadly diverse, if we don't embrace it and actually stand up for equity and making sure that everyone who really needs resources can get them first, then who are we? Part of our mission as human beings, and part of my mission as a rabbi, is to say that as a community we have a responsibility to make sure that everyone is taken care of. There is terrible systemic racism in our country. And all of us who have white skin have in one way or another benefitted from is the privileges that come with this systemic racism. And so it's our responsibility to stand up and say, other people have not benefited in that same way. In fact, they've been oppressed and enslaved and incarcerated and denied economic opportunity. And so the heart of that reparation work is to stand back and let everyone else get access. Over the last four years in particular, this country has given a really loud microphone to bullies and bigots and those who are spewing hatred, and what we have to do is fill it with love and just to say no, this is not about denying anyone what they might need. It's about really having to give up something that many of us can live without and have the resources to be just fine. My own children are in remote school right now. They are in District 65. They are struggling with remote school like everybody else. But we can have them at home, I can work from home, I can support them. And there are hundreds of children in the school system who can’t do that. And so if we really believe in equity, then we have to support our school district in what they are doing. So we support Dr. Horton. We support the school board. You know that there's that saying that 'equal rights for everybody doesn't mean less rights for you--it's not pie.' Well, equity actually is saying, I got to eat pie for generations, and my family benefited because someone else let me eat pie. And now it's time to say I don't need any more pie, everybody else does. Willie Shaw, NAACP civic engagement and political action chair: "I’m here in support of justice and against injustice. We’ve had information in several forms, from different groups, negative information that’s come to the district. The NAACP is always against any type of injustice. We always willing to sit down and talk to folks, be a mediator. So, unless we're able to meet, if they're willing, to find out what their issue is, we’re here to support fairness for our children, to support the leaders in our district." Dr. Devon Horton, D65 superintendent: "The community said out of the gate that they wanted to focus on equity and close the achievement gap. I really feel like this is an example of not just the board speaking, but the community saying this is what we prioritize."
Evanston Fight For Black Lives March for Jacob Blake
Evanston Fight for Black Lives rally/march in support of Jacob Blake beginning at Church and Ridge in Evanston. Donations to help offer immediate support for the family (including lodging expenses while in Kenosha) may be sent to: Venmo acct: evanston4blklives
Rally and March for Jacob Blake (Full Video)
Here's video of the full rally and march for Jacob Blake and his family that William Eason, Bobby Burns, and Evanston Collective organized on Tuesday, August 25. It includes speaker William Eason, Bobby Burns, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Robin Rue Simmons 5th Ward Alderman, Jasmine Edwards, and interviews with attendees Michael Gilbert-Koplow, Darlene Murray-Cannon, Carolyn Dykes Murray, and a short interview with Evanston Police Department Chief Demitrous Cook.