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Chicago mayor establishes ‘Reparations Task Force’

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson signed an executive order Monday to create a task force focused on reparations for the city’s Black residents.

As part of the executive order, the task force will conduct a study and examination of policies that impacted Black Chicago residents from the slavery era to present day, the mayor’s office said in a statement shared with The Hill. The task force will then issue a series of recommendations and remedies, the office added. 

“Today’s Executive Order is not just a public declaration; it is a pledge to shape the future of our city by confronting the legacy of inequity that has plagued Chicago for far too long,” Johnson said Monday. 

Black individuals make up nearly 30 percent of Chicago’s residents, per the U.S. Census Bureau

Johnson, in the executive order, apologized on behalf of the city for the “historical wrongs committed against Black Chicagoans and their ancestors who have and continue to bear injustices.”

The mayor noted the city has a responsibility to address the historical and present-day racial inequities that stemmed from the system of chattel slavery and Jim Crow-era laws. As a result of these laws and practices, disparities exist in education, employment, wealth, housing, safety and health, per the order.

Discussions surrounding reparations for Black Americans have been ongoing for years, with advocates often pointing to the discrimination that continued after the Emancipation Proclamation that relegated Black Americans to second-class citizenship. 

Reparations can come in various forms, including financial payments, land grants or social service benefits, per the NAACP.

Evanston, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, became the first place in the nation to pass a reparations program in 2021, allocating $400,000 to fund a block of $25,000 housing grants. 

Johnson’s executive order came after he designated $500,000 in the city’s fiscal 2024 budget toward the issue, his office noted.

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