By Michael Nabors
Evanston/North Shore NAACP
In November 2019, the Evanston City Council passed a resolution to finance a reparations program for 10 million dollars over a ten year period, for black people who suffered discrimination in Evanston. While the movement on the resolution was slowed because of COVID19, last Monday marked a pivotal moment in the history of the United States. The first municipality, town or city in this nation is now beginning reparations in Evanston. While it is a thousand mile journey, this first step is seismic. It will help some black families with housing in Evanston. It will show this nation that reparations is no longer a subject for discussion and analysis. But it is an issue ready for implementation. In the weeks and months to come, the reparations initiative will expand and reach deeply into other areas as described in the 2019 resolution. More and more Black organizations and businesses, residents and workers, will work towards these next steps.
While there is certainly not full agreement on the first step of the first reparations program in the United States, please make no mistake about it, reparations has begun in the United States. And we are proud to bear witness and participate in the first steps.
How far back does one have to go to consider reparations for the men and women, families and children whose ancestors arrived from the African Diaspora. In 1619 twenty Africans arrived at Plymouth Rock beginning the institution the African Slave Trade on the North American continent. During the American Revolution, a great many black slaves were promised freedom if they fought with the colonies against the England. The vast majority of those promises never came to pass. In her recently published book Until Justice Be Done, Northwestern University professor Kate Masur contends that America’s first civil rights movement started as many blacks and whites fought against black laws established by the colonies in the early years of our nation’s history. These laws denied both slaves and free blacks nearly all civil rights. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, as the abolitionist movement emerged, so too did a number of lawsuits seeking to grant equality to blacks, in the same way it was granted to whites.
The Civil War saw hundreds of black soldiers joining the Union Army. This turned the tide of the war and the north emerged victorious. Much like the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, there was hope that blacks would be granted freedom, not in name only, but in a tangible reparations initiative- 40 acres and a mule. Such a national enterprise did not occur precisely because of the rancid racism so predominate in the United States Congress.
While the next 100 years offered significant advancements; Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education in 1954, the success of the Montgomery Boycott in 1956, the March on Washington in 1963, the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 and the Voting Rights Bill in 1965, to name a few. Yet, there was still not a single act of tangible reparations for black people who continued to suffer unprecedented acts of racism.
Words on the conviction of police officer Darren Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd
April 22, 2021
Dear Evanston/North Shore NAACP Family and Friends,
On so many occasions we have assembled together in these community vigils to lament national tragedies in our nation. We gathered to remembered the nine men and women from Mother Emmanuel in Charleston. We gathered to remember over fifty people who lost their lives in Orlando at Club Pulse. We gathered to remember fifty more who were gunned down at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. Just last fall we gathered on behalf the Blake family whose roots are dug deeply into this very Evanston soil upon which we stand. The cry of the prophet rings in our ears, “How long, Lord, how long?” In trial after trial we saw justice denied;
Trayvon Martin was killed and justice went missing with a not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman as he walked free.
Tamir Rice was killed and justice went missing and a review by FBI agent Kimberly Crawford found that Timothy Loehmann’s was justified, allowing him to walk free.
Eric Garner was killed and justice went missing when Attorney General William J. Barr ordered the case to be dropped and Officer Daniel Pantaleo walked free.
Sandra Bland was killed and justice went missing when a grand jury declined to indict State Trooper Brian Encinia or County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith allowing them to walk free.
Michael Brown was killed and justice went missing as as Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County Prosecutor announced a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson as he walked free.
Breonna Taylor was killed and justice went missing and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron convinced a grand jury not to indict any of the three officers as they all walked free.
There is some solace in knowing, Office Darren Chauvin made a short walk, in handcuffs, out of the courtroom to a facility in Stillwater, Minnesota a few miles away. His walking as a free man, has come to an end. Yet, before we can become caught up in a sweet moment where temporary justice can be seen as a flickering glow across the canopy of our nation’s landscape, the sin of racism continues to abound in law enforcement and our judicial system. Daunte Wright died at the hands of police, Adam Toledo died at the hands of police.
Since George Floyd died last May, one hundred and eighty one Black people have been killed by police- according to the research group, Mapping Police Violence. A brilliant, beautiful Black PhD student right here at Northwestern University, wrote these words, The police state that is naming Chauvin guilty is the same police state that killed George Floyd. We have to sit with the fact that the contours of anti-Black power actually require these occasional breaks and moments of “justice” in order to keep the very wheels of anti-Black power turning.
What we must do friends and neighbors in Evanston, is we must be ever diligent in balancing any celebration with the continued and vigorous demand for change, transformation and an end to racism. What we must do, is target racism everywhere, and supplant it with a fierce and loving spirit of anti-racism. What we must do, is be ever realistic that this one verdict in hundreds may not be the first wave in a tsunami of justice rolling across our land. But it may simply be a decision of necessity seeking to lull us back into conformity and unguarded ease. Remember, the very night before the closing arguments in this case occurred- our hero and she-ro, Congresswoman Maxine Waters was vilified for saying, “We must be ever more confrontational if there is no guilty verdict.” Judge Cahill tried to roast her. Kevin McCarthy tried to roast her. That villain Marilyn Green tried to roast her. And it is to suggest that with every victory, comes a more vivid realization of racism. With every step forward comes a more glaring display of white supremacy. As we break through barriers, as we tear down walls as we overcome obstacles- the struggle will not end. But keep in mind, we know what the end will be. Right wins. Love is always greater than hate. Evil cannot withstand good.
I encourage you to go thank God for the family of George Floyd who may be resting easier. But also renew your resolve and determination to wake up tomorrow for the next battle, the next fight, the next confrontation. Until we have won this war against racism, may our unity in this community- grow ever closer and stronger.
Peace and Safety,
Dr. Michael Nabors
President-Evanston/North Shore NAACP
Ms. Willie Shaw, who leads the Political Action, Civic Engagement, Voters Registration, and Social Committees of the Evanston /North Shore Branch NAACP, was a special guest on the Hollywood Bureau of NAACP Image awards that aired March 28.
She was one of only two guests from the state of Illinois. She was cited for her work with the Evanston /North Shore Branch of the NAACP, particularly in the area of political action/civic engagement.
Watch it streaming now! https://naacpimageawards.net/
(You can see Willie here as well after Deon Cole from Blackish at about the 11:44 minute mark https://vimeo.com/528499907)