The former alderman in Evanston, Illinois, made history in 2019 when she successfully instituted a reparations program specifically geared toward her city’s Black constituents who are linked to earlier generations of racist discrimination. Simmons’ efforts have unequivocally helped bolster interest in pending legislation for a national reparations program.
“What we’ve done in Evanston is successful because we have inspired our community to think differently about how we restore the harm done in our Black community,” Simmons told NewsOne during a recent phone conversation.
Either way, Simmons said, achieving any semblance of restorative and reparative justice won’t be overnight.
“It will take time,” Simmons said.
How long, exactly, has yet to be determined.
However, Dr. William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy and economics at Duke University who literally helped write the book on reparations, said he was hopeful the country is moving in the right direction.
Darity, who co-authored “From Here to Equality: Reparations For Black Americans In The 21st Century” alongside A. Kirsten Mullen, recently explained to NewsOne the various forms that reparations could look like. He cited successful examples like Germany compensating victims of the Holocaust and the U.S. government paying Japanese American victims of unjust mass incarceration during World War II, the latter on which Conyers modeled the first iteration of H.R. 40, which has since been reintroduced by Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Darity said payments didn’t have to be cash only.
“But the monetary payments are essential,” Darity said, because the end goal is the “elimination of the racial wealth gap in its entirety.”
Darity also said there is an educational component of his book’s vision for reparations in order “to correct the false, Lost Cause narrative about slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction that the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution have embedded in our national consciousness.”