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Documentary chronicles fight for reparations for slavery in America on December 3rd at the DuSable Museum in Chicago

The Civil War freed slaves ('contrabands') at Cumberland Landing, Va. Washington, DC

 A documentary “The Big Payback”, chronicling the historic push for reparations in the city of Evanston, Illinois and nationally for reparations bill, HR40 will be presented in Chicago on Saturday, December 3rd at 5:00pm at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, 740 E 56th Place.  The event is sponsored by Black United Fund of Illinois Inc.™ (BUFI) in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation and Reparations United. 

The documentary follows the fight by former Evanston Ald. Robin Rue Simmons to obtain the passage of the $10 million reparations bill and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee’s continued fight to pass HR40. The documentary features Robin Rue Simmons and HR40’s lead sponsor, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.  While serving as an alderman, Robin Rue Simmons introduced the idea to the City of Evanston in 2019, said “the Restorative Housing Reparations Program was created to remedy some of the harm caused by the city’s historical anti-Black housing policies.” When it was approved last year, it was considered the country’s first reparations program.

It has been more than 30 years since the late U.S. Congressman John Conyers first introduced HR40 to study reparations for descendants of enslaved people.  Every Congress since 1989 has failed to pass the bill.  HR40 proposes the creation of a federal commission to study reparations and recommend remedies for the harm caused by slavery and the discriminatory policies that followed abolition. 

While Congress languished on addressing the wrongs inflicted on generations of slave descendants, Evanston, IL. became the first U.S. city to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery. 

The film’s director actress Erica Alexander, award-winning documentary filmmaker, Whitney Dow and Robin Rue Simmons will be in attendance and will be on hand, along with Kamm Howard of Reparations United, for a conversation after the airing of the film.

The Black United Fund of Illinois’ Executive Director, Carolyn Day stated “BUFI is proud to be a key sponsor of this important film and feel strongly that all African Americans should be more aware of the issues surrounding reparations and HR40 and whether there is a role they can/should play in its passage”. 

“There is such great harm, and a portfolio of remedies is needed,” states Simmons.Kamm Howard of Reparations United goes on to say that “Black Americans cannot wait for another generation, cannot wait for another administration, and certainly cannot wait until after another midterm election in order to engage in repair.”

“This nation’s salvation lies in the righting of historic and contemporary wrongs committed against Black people in America,” he added. “Without our vote, America will sink deeper into an amoral, unjust, ultra-tribal system of escalating hatred and violence as we are experiencing this very moment.”

You can see and hear the makers of the documentary along with co-executive producer Joy Reid, host of MSNBC’s, The ReidOut, on this trailblazing project at

The event is free, but registration is required. To register go to: Chicago Community Screening of the documentary, The Big Payback | Eventnoire

About the Black United Fund of Illinois™ (BUFI)

The Black United Fund of Illinois is a non-profit, tax-exempt federated organization and a social movement designed to improve the quality of life for African Americans through reliance on self-help at the local community level. At the root of this philosophy is the statewide goal of developing systematic mechanisms to rally resources for the African American community.

About the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including advancing global climate solutions, decreasing nuclear risk, promoting local justice reform in the U.S., and reducing corruption in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program and the global 100&Change competition, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsive democracy as well as the vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago.

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