[poignant music] ♪ ♪ [soft dramatic music] ♪ ♪ [indistinct chatter] - We need to get in a single file line, or no one's getting in.
- The House Committee on the Judiciary is holding a hearing today on a bill which proposes to establish a commission to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans.
- Black power.
all: Black power!
40, the bill introduced by the late Congressman John Conyers, has languished in committee for more than 30 years.
Since his passing, Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has taken up the fight to try to move it through the House and eventually to the Senate, where she'll need a miracle to get it passed.
40 is, in fact, the response of the United States of America long overdue.
My people in America are the descendants of Africans kidnapped and transported to the United States.
It is only this group that can singularly, singularly claim to have been slaves under the auspices, the institution and leadership of the United States government.
Slavery is the original sin.
Slavery has never received an apology.
- By the time the enslaved were emancipated, they comprised the largest single asset in America.
3 billion in 1860 dollars, more than all the other assets in the country combined.
- I picked the cotton.
I built the railroad under someone else's whip for nothing.
- Reconstruction failed after 12 years.
And after reconstruction, a reign of terror that had never been seen.
The hanging fruit, the lynching.
- State-sponsored terrorism.
- We kick the living hell out of the niggers.
back to their own hometowns where they ought to have been.
- Yesterday when asked about reparations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a familiar reply.
- Yeah, I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea.
- This rebuttal proffers a strange theory of governance, that American accounts are somehow bound by the lifetime of its generations.
[dramatic music] - What the bill says is that this is a proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery.
- The institution of slavery has never gone away.
♪ ♪ - Convict leasing.
- The oppression of voting.
- Poll taxes and racist G.I.
- Many of the bedrock policies, in fact, that ushered generations of Americans into the middle class were designed to exclude African Americans.
- We fought in every one of your damn lousy wars, baby.
And you give us nothing.
- Thousands and thousands of Black veterans were denied their G.I.
- Federal Housing programs also discriminated against African Americans by redlining.
- There's no question that redlining is happening.
It's happening in almost every major city in America.
- The typical Black family in this country has 1/10 the wealth of the typical white family.
- 31% of Black children live in poverty, compared to 11% of white children.
And we know the criminal justice system.
- Somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend.
- Oh, my God.
[protestors shouting] all: No peace!
- The question facing every person who lives in this nation is not so much who killed those young men, but what killed them.
- I'm gonna tell them there's an African American man threatening my life.
- The matter of reparations is one of making amends, indirect redress, but it is also a question of citizenship.
- If you won't listen to me when I make an appeal for the Negroes, because you have no concern for the Negro... - Let's go.
Move it on back.
♪ ♪ - Listen to me when I make an appeal for America!
♪ ♪ - Let us work together, and let's get this done.
It is long overdue.
It is deserving, and it is the right thing to do.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
♪ ♪ - We have yet to hear when the bill will have a full House vote.
Keep in mind that's still another hurdle that this legislation has to move past.
[upbeat music] - ♪ Ha ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Ooh ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Hey ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Ha ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Huh ♪ ♪ ♪ - Good afternoon.
This is the professor, Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and distinguished lecturer.
You're on Vantage Point.
- Hey, how you doing, brother?
- I just wanted to get your opinion on H.R.
There hasn't been much talk or thought about, you know, reparations.
So I was just wondering if you could speak on that.
- Oh, I certainly can.
I mean, H.R.
40 is-- we're pushing very hard.
There's been a lot of debate and discussion about the--the bill.
And it's unfortunately-- unfortunately, it's playing out between the political parties, to some degree.
I must say that we have great disappointment at this level.
But Sheila Jackson Lee has been absolutely visionary, courageous, and tenacious in helping to spearhead this.
- African Americans are still feeling the brunt of slavery.
But we're trying to get our friends who are making statements, "You were not a slave," to understand that you are a descendant, a descendant, a descendant, but you are faced by that status of slavery and racism that puts you in this position today.
[indistinct radio chatter] - We did not initially start talking about building local reparations initiatives until I get this call from a dear friend, longtime activist.
- How are you?
- I'm fantastic.
How are you?
- I'm doing great.
I'm doing great.
I'm doing just fine.
- You know I'm, like, in warrior mode, right?
- That's fine.
- He said, "Man, you know, we got a bad system "in Evanston, and she's pushing the reparations question strong."
- We're gonna market it and tell everybody about it.
You're doing wonderful.
We love it.
- Thank you.
- Oh, yeah.
- Thank you.
[indistinct chatter] - Good evening, everyone.
all: Good evening.
- We're going to prepare our hearts and minds to begin this most historic town meeting to celebrate the Evanston reparations.
Would you clap your hands for... [cheers and applause] - There's something in the air.
The whole nation is watching this city and, indeed, perhaps over the world.
And so it was Alderman Simmons who brings us here, in many respects.
You have become the visible face and the driving force of the Evanston reparation initiative.
Why did you do this?
- Evanston... We are leaders.
And as I work through my responsibilities as Fifth Ward Alderman, I saw how hard we were working.
My colleagues on city council, community organizations, residents, parents, were working really hard to bring equity and inclusion, and we were not moving the needle.
We still maintain a wealth disparity of $46,000 between Blacks and whites in Evanston.
We continued a life expectancy gap of 13 years.
Our Black homeownership rate is at its lowest point since the 1960s, and we needed to move our efforts beyond apology and ceremony, and we needed to bring action.
It was time to do something as radical as the oppression and discrimination, as the impact from the Jim Crow law and the redlining.
Something as radical as reparations.
[cheers and applause] There was nothing more to do.
[cheers and applause] [upbeat music] - All right, folks, we'll be talking about H.R.
40, the commission to study reparations.
40 has been stalled in Congress for more than 30 years, but there's new light in the debate coming out of Evanston, Illinois.
Robin Rue Simmons was an alderwoman there.
She got passed the first reparations bill in American history.
- The city of Evanston now has pledged to pay out $10 million over the next 10 years.
- This is the first attempt at a publicly funded reparations program in U.S. history.
- So now it's up to Evanston to decide how and to whom the money will be distributed.
♪ ♪ - It's been nonstop.
More calls and emails in the last few days than I probably had in the last couple years, really.
[laughs] - You'll be hearing from me shortly on the few emails and texts, and then I'll see you at 5:30.
- Okay, thank you.
- Learning that local government is most responsive and we're more nimble and we can make impact quicker than the federal government, and thinking this is a local matter.
And I pushed it relentlessly.
I was very, very stern in wanting it to happen in this calendar year, being the 400th year of Black resilience.
That was important to me.
So I was not willing to compromise on any other format to get to this victory.
Time is of the essence.
So with that said, let's just do the work at this point.
How are we gonna-- I hear we have 16 seats instead of 24.
How are you?
[indistinct chatter] - Sheila, go ahead, sit here.
- Thank you for accepting the invitation.
- Sheila, sit here.
- All right, does everybody have a seat?
I will not hold anybody liable for any injuries that might occur in this.
- All right.
- Welcome, everyone.
Can I have your attention?
I'm trying to paint a picture of how Evanston has changed over the course of 100, 150 years.
Evanston was established in 1855.
Right here was the Evanston Sanitarium.
Evanston segregated hospital.
Up and down here, a lot of mom-and-pop shops, eateries, barbers, beauticians.
This location here was the original location of Ebenezer AME Church, Evanston's oldest Black church, established in 1882.
And the Emerson Street branch YMCA that was located at this section right here, it was opened in 1914 to service the Black community in Evanston, Illinois.
- Everything that happened in Evanston was happening in this building.
Churches started there.
Clubs started there.
Decades of history and memory in one building.
And that kind of epitomized the strength of a community at that time.
Shorefront is an organization that documents the African American experience in Chicago's suburban North Shore.
And usually the storyline is, we're domestics and servants, and we have no history.
And I'm kind of, like, saying this-- this is BS.
This is American history, and you cannot edit out a dialogue to create a new narrative.
You're not telling a complete story, and you're telling an inaccurate story.
[indistinct chatter] - Evanston had a significant part to do with it.
Yeah, we did.
- Good afternoon, everyone.
Thank you all for being here.
We are here today because we have a lot of work to do.
We've done something really historic, and we have an opportunity to actually make tremendous impact in our community, and be looked to as a model of what's possible in localities across the nation.
Via Evanston's budget, there is a reparation fund line item.
That's really exciting.
- The question is, what makes reparations reparations?
Certainly, the whole issue of enslavement is what people tend to think about, but it is also for Jim Crow policies and racially exclusionary policies, policies that provided benefits for white people that we didn't get.
That in fact, helped to develop white communities to the underdevelopment of Black communities.
- I want us to forever remember that there is no amount of money that they can pay us for what our people have endured.
The notion that comes out of our committee, ancestral wisdom about justice.
And that's the distinction we're looking for in terms of public policy and what we're talking about when we talk about reparatory justice.
- When you use the term reparations in this context, a whole slew of categories-- redlining, apartheid, which was Jim Crow segregation, slavery-- these were what were considered crimes against humanity.
And how do you return the dignity back to a people whose dignity was eroded as a result of the crimes that were committed?
- When we come to 1865, General Sherman's Field Order 15, that was the moment when the nation attempted to redress the crimes of enslavement and all of the things that went on through that cruel period.
- [garbled speech] As the Union swept towards victory over the slaveholding Southern states, General William T. Sherman issued a military order redistributing 400,000 acres of Confederate lands to the recently emancipated slaves.
The order specified that the land be divided equally into 40-acre parcels and governed by an autonomous, all-Black government.
This order, Special Order Field 15, became known as "40 acres and a mule."
[tense music] - General Sherman's Field Order 15, that was the first of many times where this country had an opportunity to do the right thing, and it never did.
♪ ♪ If they had, then we wouldn't be in the situation we're in now.
Less than three months after General Sherman's order, Lincoln was assassinated, and the new president rescinded it.
That kind of ended reparations for 50, 60 years.
That's when Sister Callie House comes into that.
A lot of ex-slaves were too old to work.
♪ ♪ She had set up a massive movement trying to get government pensions for ex-slaves.
She was stopped by being arrested and imprisoned because the government said she was actually defrauding her members, that she should have known America was never gonna pay.
Callie House was a threat to white America and to the government because she inspired a movement to see this issue as a collective struggle of a people, but the question is, do you see yourself as part of the people of African descent, or do you see yourself as American individuals who happen to be Black?
♪ ♪ - This is the redline map that shows the area that was redlined, all encompassing the Fifth Ward.
Redlining was a Federal Housing program designating areas in cities that had a potential real estate growth, and assigning value to areas.
So if you're in the higher letters, A, B, the green areas are the most desirable areas.
Those are areas where banks specifically would lend money for housing and for development.
This whole blue area here is all lakefront property.
So highly desired.
Then when you get in yellow, it's kind of iffy, you know, but a lot of times, this represents middle class, working class, ethnic white.
If you're labeled D, that's the lowest.
Banks recommend no investment whatsoever.
Not in housing, not in business development.
100% of the time, it is the Black population.
So Robin lives about right here, right in the middle, where the D2 is.
- Okay, well, my Uber is here.
- Oh, daughter!
- [laughs] - Baby.
- I'll see you Monday.
- Okay, bye, baby.
- You got the door?
Hey, Demetrius, how are you?
I'm just touching base after that call we had yesterday.
Did I have any action items?
My feelings are all over the place right now.
Some mornings I wake up and I feel like, wow, I'm a part of history.
This is special.
And then it's intimidating at the same time, because what if you don't get it right and everyone's not comfortable with it?
You know, people have been extremely nasty to me, and I'm careful to maintain my professionalism always and, you know, use all my big words and not yell.
And I just really want to get to the action.
Like, that's kind of how I lead.
I like to identify the problem, you know, and get right to identifying a solution and put some action behind that.
But we can't work so swiftly with this because there are, you know, generations and decades and layers of problems and damages and responsible institutions and practices and culture.
And the more I learn and the more I get accomplished, it seems like the more work there is to do.
[soft music] ♪ ♪ - I'm trying to find my husband, who doesn't often get to come here.
And one of my swearing in.
Me and President Clinton.
We had an Oval Office picture.
That's a big deal, when you have a one-on-one meeting with the President of the United States.
I appreciate that.
We were talking about some serious issues.
That's my good friend Congressman John Conyers.
Fighting the good fight of H.R.
This was deeply personal because I have lived the laws of the land dividing us by sanctioning discrimination and racism.
John Lewis is-- I have to get way up here.
John Lewis, just a wonderful man, and he was a strong supporter of H.R.
I just miss him so much.
My grandparents were in Florida.
When I would go visit them, I rode in the back of the train, as a little girl, with my bag of food, because I could not eat any place in that train.
I had to be relegated to the train for colored people, and you had to bring your own food.
And my mom and dad.
My father was a young, brilliant cartoonist.
This is the "Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books."
♪ ♪ Ezra Clyde Jackson.
There he is.
He did it under a pseudonym 'cause there was a broker who took the work that these Black men had and then took it to Madison Avenue.
Because the color thing, it had to be sort of camouflaged.
I'll turn the page.
This the kind of work that he did.
♪ ♪ And this is what they did.
They took their work and then they put a pseudonym on it and sold it to the comic books... ♪ ♪ So they wouldn't know that Black people, Black men did it.
♪ ♪ And then when the white soldiers came back from World War II, it was just, "We don't need you anymore."
That stained us for his whole life into my beginning of my life.
I'm still not prepared to join an insurrection.
I just want to understand, and I want you to understand who I am and who we are.
- I didn't know if what you wanted was relative to the agenda items.
So I was trying to make an effort to touch base with you before.
Six generations of my family have been Fifth Ward residents.
The work is personal for me.
I have a daughter, and I have, you know, a son and a grandson.
They're Black children that are in a cruel world with discrimination and unfair practices that they have to navigate life with.
And if I can do anything to give them hope that they can be whatever they want to be, that's my responsibility.
[upbeat music] ♪ ♪ So I grew up right here in the Fifth Ward.
I was born and raised.
And from birth to 17, when I left after graduating Evanston Township High School, I lived in-- I should count them.
it may be somewhere between 10 and 12 different homes in the Fifth Ward.
So this is my neighborhood.
Much of my childhood I actually lived with my grandparents, so my mother was pursuing her highest and best life, and I lived with my grandparents.
So this was my grandparents' home.
And so we lived on the first floor.
This was my home base.
I probably lived here some stretch of grade school, most of junior high, all of high school.
I lived with my grandparents here in this house.
This is me in front of that house.
[laughs] We didn't have a lot, but we had a ton of love, and I didn't know that I didn't have a lot.
I mean, it wasn't until I moved out and entered into adulting that I realized that we were, you know, working class poor.
I thought I was well-off.
[soft music] It's my village.
Like these streets raised me, and that community I'm just forever grateful for.
I could have very easily been something else.
I could have very easily had an addiction or, you know, been in the criminal justice system.
And my community really helped me believe that I could choose to be however great I wanted to be.
And I believed them, and here I am today, trying really, really hard to give back in the way that I was receiving as a child.
♪ ♪ - We are here in Hecky Way.
How you doing?
- Sauce on the regular tips?
- We specialize in barbecue.
It's a homemade recipe received from my mother.
She got it from her grandmother.
♪ ♪ This is our smokers here.
Those are rib tips.
And Kendra's over here working pulled pork-- or she pretending like she's working the pulled pork.
[laughs] We sell so much, I had to get a machine.
People don't have the work ethic.
That's what we're trying to teach like they used to.
I'm not liberal, okay?
I'm, like, in the middle.
I helped Robin on her campaign to be an alderperson.
You know, our council, in this community, has got a little too liberal for me.
I mean, reparation, we don't need it.
When we talk about redlining, that wasn't good.
But then there was part of it that was good.
All the Black people live together.
We all was in the same neighborhood.
The poor, the middle class, and the rich.
My family's been here since 1902.
My great-grandfather, now, he was born into slavery.
His mother and three of the siblings escaped from New Madrid, Missouri, where they were picking cotton.
And my dad, who raised nine kids doing domestic work on the North Shore.
You know, the man worked extremely hard, and he saved his money.
And he built a house.
This is back during the time when they were not giving or considering giving Black men money for homes.
You know, we never was on any type of public aid or assistance or any of those things.
He didn't believe in it.
And he wouldn't take it anyway.
He believed and taught us the work ethic.
And that all of us, you should work for what you want.
This one here is some key people that played a great role in the community.
This guy here, he owned this company.
Golden Crown Juices.
He couldn't get into the big stores, but he was smart.
He hired these two white guys to be his salesmen, and they thought they were the owners.
So that's how he got-- that's how he got into those stores.
He knew how to think.
This guy is named Jack Moss.
He owned the grocery store that was down the street.
That's where every-- Black people shopped at, was at his place.
No government funds.
And you know something?
If you didn't have enough money, he had a little chart for you.
You'd pay him off weekly.
And that's my dad up there.
I put him close to heaven.
[chuckles] [soft music] ♪ ♪ - I've lived in Evanston for 19 years.
I thought I lived in a diverse community, my kids went to a diverse school.
But all my friends were white.
I lived in a totally white neighborhood, and I knew absolutely nothing about the Black community or the history of the Black community.
And I think once you know that and once you hear the stories, you can't help but care.
You can't help but recognize the injustice, the enormous length of time that this injustice has been going on.
And so that's why I give a [...], because there are people in my community-- it's my community.
And so I started Dear Evanston.
It's an organization based on a Facebook page, talking to white people about what's going on in Evanston's Black community.
Because there's such a divide in our city.
And there's so many white people who are probably pretty well-meaning but just don't know what's going on.
Just don't know the history of Evanston.
And not because they don't want to know, but no one's ever taught them.
And I was one of those people.
I grew up in South Africa, and I left South Africa when I was almost 15.
And I think that growing up in South Africa and being young and growing up during apartheid, there was nothing I could do.
There was nothing that I felt any power to do.
And I remember as a kid feeling very guilty and uncomfortable and helpless.
I live in this beautiful house, and the question is, how much do we owe?
And how much should we give?
I think every white person in Evanston is gonna need to answer that question for themselves.
I can't even say for myself what it is that I'm "prepared" or that my family is prepared to give, because it's, like, an insurmountable amount that is owed.
I don't know how we'll ever pay it.
I don't know how, as a family, we'd be able to pay it, and how much we'll be willing to, to be very honest.
How much of--how much of our privilege and our money are we gonna be willing to ultimately give to this?
Something we think-- I have to think about a lot.
♪ ♪ - This is the rough part of Evanston.
This is the part of town where you don't want to be out on a nice summer night at 11:00 at night.
Kind of a classic story.
We always drove our kids to school.
I would just drive them and then go to work.
So we're driving by the high school, with police line all over the place.
Someone got shot at the high school.
I don't know who did it.
It's just the nature of this neighborhood, or you know, it's--it's a rough-- it's a rough part of town.
Just it's just-- just the way it is.
If you were to look at some of these mailboxes, you'll see that there are lots of people, probably seven or eight names just listed on the mailbox.
It's not right or wrong.
It's just this is, you know-- this is how they get through life's journey, as well.
Just... That's their world.
Come on, Wolf.
Robin, as to why reparations are needed, she's mentioned that, you know, people are being priced out of Evanston.
And you know, thank God for the U.S. Census.
I mean, in 1990, Evanston was 78% white.
It's now 59% white.
In 1990, it was 22% Black.
It's now 16% Black.
Again, I don't have a problem with that.
That's just people come and go, and people move.
In the meantime, Evanston has gone from 15% Asian to 27% Asian.
I--so I just don't see this issue that, you know, the part of the reparations fund is gonna be used to keep Black families in the community.
I don't know why they would be given more status than any other group of people.
There's a lot of people who are afraid to speak up.
You're afraid that you-- and speak to a contrary position, you're actually afraid to actually speak your mind, because someone's gonna sit there and say, "You are a--" whatever.
And--or your car is going to get keyed, or you're-- you know, again, I don't know that there's any incidences of someone who said something that didn't agree with the masses getting their car keyed, but that's the inner feeling.
That saying something controversial is gonna end up, you know, causing harm to myself and my family.
I mean, if you think about reparations, reparations conceptually, it's for those that were victimized by slavery.
So if there was gonna be a time to make the reparations for the harm of slavery, I would argue that that should have been done, you know, in the late 19th century.
We're now in the 21st century.
I think what it'll end up doing is making us look like a bunch of bloody fools.
- All that makes somebody Black or somebody white-- what we're talking about is just skin color.
[indistinct chatter] In my family, it's all mixed.
You want a bag?
- Not gonna last that long.
- All right.
I did a DNA on myself.
I'm all mixed up.
This is just a human body.
My spirit, I love.
That has no color.
We all in this country are nothing but a bunch of mutts.
[laughs] We all are mutts.
So I came out with a package called The Mutt.
These, hot links.
[laughs] This here, chicken wings.
See, this here is the Black people.
This is-- the red is the Indians.
And then you take--and you put your white bread on top.
And there it is.
That's The Mutt.
I mean, that council's really liberal.
But they're liberal, and they're scared to be called racist.
And they're gonna let it go through.
But will anything get done?
That's what we've got to see.
We're gonna see where this goes.
I don't think it's gonna go too far for anyone.
[cheers and applause] - We, the leaders of the effort for reparations now, reparations not in the next century, not in 2185, not 10 years from now, but reparations when?
- The reparations movement during the 20th century took many forms and faced many obstacles.
♪ ♪ Early in the century, there was Marcus Garvey and his reparations and repatriation movement.
He was followed by Queen Mother Moore, who in 1957 gathered over a million signatures on a petition for reparations which she presented to the United Nations.
And in the 1960s and '70s, the Black Panthers had a 10-point program for liberation, which included a demand for payment of the reparations promised in Special Field Order No.
But when we think about the modern reparations movement, it was really Congressman John Conyers who got the ball rolling on the government reparations policy.
Spurred on by reparation's Ray Jenkins, Conyers crafted the first version of H.R.
40 in 1989 and unsuccessfully petitioned the House Judiciary Committee to take the bill up for the next 30 years.
♪ ♪ The work is now being carried forward by representative Sheila Jackson Lee in Washington.
- You're here to-- - I'm here to meet with the Congresswoman, yes.
Just go ahead.
And she should be here momentarily.
So... - Okay.
[reporter on TV speaking indistinctly] - Secretary Alex Azar from earlier today.
- We don't know exactly how many... - Councilwoman?
- We're so excited to see you.
- Very happy to be here.
- Thank you so very much.
Come on over here.
- Thank you.
I'm delighted to welcome you and to congratulate you.
We were so excited when we saw the legislation.
In fact, we have used it in presentations that we've made.
- I use your outstanding construct.
You've been, councilmember, a real hero--shero--to me.
- Thank you.
Being a member of National League of Cities, you know, we learn that all government starts locally, and the thought was, why not do what we can do here at a local level while H.R.
40 is working through its process, through your leadership?
We could have layers of repair and layers of remedy, because, as we know, those damages, yes, were rooted in slavery.
But you know, it looked like discrimination even still today because the color of our dark skin.
So excited to share anything that we've done in Evanston and then learn more about your goals for H.R.
40 and how we can even support that and make sure that it gets passed.
- Well, I think the good news is that you are proactive.
So I am very grateful for that laboratory that you've given us.
And I think it will be very effective, being utilized and shared with members of Congress.
And what you have done just adds to the really important story of what reparations can be.
So thank you.
Glad you're here for the National League of Cities.
And glad we were able to have this moment.
- Thank you.
I wish this wasn't happening, 'cause my first thing was to get a big hug.
- Same here.
- But next time.
- I need a moment.
[laughs] - Yeah.
[soft music] ♪ ♪ - China has identified the cause of the mysterious pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan City.
- In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold.
- The great shutdown of 2020 is underway.
We know the hospital surge is coming.
- I am officially declaring a national emergency.
Two very big words.
- It is lights out for tens of thousands of bars and restaurants across the city, and even more across the state.
- To avoid loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, we must enact an immediate stay-at-home order for the state of Illinois.
So that is the action that I'm announcing today.
- We were in DC, and as we were in DC, the coronavirus pandemic was becoming a concern.
We returned home to pretty much full-blown pandemic.
Due to COVID, we have a legit budget concern.
The recommendation was that we consider postponing reparation work until 2021.
Why in the world would we postpone reparation for a community that was also disproportionately impacted by the COVID virus?
So we're moving forward with our deadlines as of right now.
Good evening, and thank you all for joining us for our second Town Hall for reparations in Evanston.
I'm very excited to introduce our next guest.
We have Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee here with us tonight, and we are behind her-- I am, I'll speak for myself-- as you lead our nation towards having H.R.
- Alderman Simmons, I am delighted to be here, and I was very privileged to work with the honorable John Conyers, late John Conyers, on many issues, including criminal justice reform and, of course, H.R.
The time is now for our nation to study and acknowledge the effects and impact of slavery in America.
The time is now to shed light on our shared truth to enable healing to a national reckoning, and to embrace and uplift our shared humanity.
And what you have done in Evanston is a step forward for people to see the value that will come out of recognizing the idea of reparations.
So in H.R.
40, we have 126 cosponsors.
We've never had that many cosponsors in the decades that it's been found.
14 members away from 150.
And I have no doubt that we're gonna work to pass this legislation out of the United States House and the Senate.
Thank you for having me.
- Thank you very much.
We appreciate you being here.
And we have to close out this meeting.
So thank you-- - Can I say something?
Can I say something?
- I think most people know by now, but Hecky Powell is very ill, and we should all pray for him tonight.
- He is in intensive care with COVID.
- Thank you for making that point.
[somber music] ♪ ♪ - Data collected by state and local agencies suggests Blacks are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- Black people in the U.S. are nearly three times as likely to become infected with the virus as their white neighbors, and nearly twice as likely to die from it.
- So you are talking about 400 years of racism as a national model in this country, and we are surprised at why Black people are the most vulnerable to any public health issue?
♪ ♪ - Hecky is somebody who was the first that I talked to about running for Alderman.
His passing was a great loss for everybody in the community.
I think everybody felt like they had a special relationship with Hecky.
♪ ♪ I know that I did.
♪ ♪ [upbeat music] ♪ ♪ - The greatest hurdle is the political will to make it happen.
And Alderman Simmons made it happen.
♪ ♪ Before I took the job, I knew that Evanston was working on a reparations program, and I wanted the opportunity to work with the committee.
My background as an attorney is primarily litigation.
The number one question that I get asked as the legal counsel is, how do you deal with it being a race-based program?
How do you get over that hurdle?
With respect to reparations or any sort of equity work in this country, ironically, you battle the 14th Amendment.
The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the laws of all citizens in the United States.
Although the Amendment was passed to try and benefit freed slaves and African Americans in the country, it's actually been used to deny opportunities to those same groups.
If someone sues, they say, "This isn't right.
This is reverse discrimination."
This is one of my favorite terms.
This is reverse discrimination.
And ironically, discrimination is one of the hardest things to prove.
You can always say in the area of housing, "This person was denied "because of their income.
"They were denied because of their credit.
"They were denied because of a laundry list of things that had nothing to do with their race."
But we didn't have the resources internally to find that evidence.
And Dino Robinson was instrumental in gathering a lot of evidence, specifically implicating actions of the city with respect to discrimination.
- You know, what we're trying to anticipate is, what if somebody comes and says, "Well, this wasn't a law "in the law books in the city of Evanston.
So how can you say it happened?"
Well, since we did not have any written laws, we had to look for the underlying evidence in, you know, procedures and thought processes, and maybe just the way the city of Evanston conducted themselves with the Black community.
So we found this recently.
"Negroes unable to secure homes here."
This came out January 2, 1918.
Nearly 50 colored families living in cramped homes of friends and relatives are unable to rent any other hundreds of empty houses.
And it goes on to say, like, landlords will not rent to Negroes, and how can land owners and realtors selling homes to Negroes, how can we prevent that from happening?
And can we move the Black community to unincorporated Niles?
So that is played out over and over again.
We know it happens, but to find documentation of some sort, you know, it's an eye-opener.
Yes, beautiful Evanston has its roots in Jim Crow.
[birds chirping] - There's a reason why a lot of the Blacks are not here anymore.
I think my mom is the last original owner on this block.
- That's what I've been told.
I don't know for sure.
- This is a first-step initiative to try to re-compensate for the losses that we've taken over the years.
- It would help for now.
- Well, I think that it's more like repairing the dignity.
You know, people looking at you based on the color of your skin and being discriminated against just solely because of how you look, you know, it really can have a traumatic effect on you overall.
In looking back at what my dad had to go through back in the South during Jim Crow, and you could literally be beaten and killed for standing up for yourself.
So it took me a long time to understand that my dad was protecting me by shuffling his feet and skinning and grinning in front of the white man.
And it took me at least 30 years to understand why he did that.
So yeah, I think that these type of programs restore dignity and faith that, you know, the system is changing and working in a way towards bringing better equality and bringing different races together in more understanding.
- Good afternoon.
You're on the air.
- I got friends and family talking about, they're gonna give us reparations now.
[laughs] I bet you a million dollars they give us Juneteenth before they give us reparations.
- ♪ Happy birthday to me ♪ - ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ - ♪ Happy birthday to me ♪ - ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ all: ♪ Happy birthday, dear Carlis ♪ - ♪ Happy birthday to me ♪ - ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ - ♪ And many more ♪ - Yay!
- You didn't tell me about these fine young ladies down here.
[laughter] - Bless the hands up in spirit and bless the people who will receive it.
Please let all of the blessings continue for our health and our wealth, and thank you for fellowship and friendship.
- Good bread, good meat, good Lord, let's eat.
[laughter] - Carlis... - Hmm?
- Tell us the story about your parents' house, that they were-- they actually what-- they moved the street or... - Yeah.
They tore the street off the map.
It's no longer on the map.
They were building those very expensive homes up and down Central Park.
For some reason or another, they didn't want-- they couldn't get the value of their homes if Black people were living near them.
So the developers moved all the Blacks out.
- Same as what's happening right now.
- Right, and I think that's one reason why my grandfather turned to alcohol, because he could not hold his head up in front of his own family.
You cannot pay my grandfather back.
But we descendants, we survived without any assistance from the city of Evanston.
No banks, nothing.
Now give us what we're due.
- We need a cash payment.
Alderman Ruth Simmons said that that's what she was gonna give us from the beginning.
- She knows.
She knows from firsthand what happened.
And yet and still she does nothing about it.
- So we have a reparations bill, and I thank her for that, okay?
But we are ready now to go to the next step.
We're all in this same boat together.
But every time we grab an oar, you want to row against us.
Let's row together in this community.
Let's build this country as it was intended to be, the city on the hill that is a light for the entire world.
- For the purpose of moving this meeting forward, do we have consensus on $25,000 for purchase of a new home as the number up to?
- I vote yes.
- Okay, so with that said, I'm making a motion that we extend the program budget for housing to $400,000 for a total program budget.
- Alderman Braithwaite?
- [speaking indistinctly] - Okay.
So with that said, staff, we want to move forward with a program budget of 400K for purchase benefit up to 25,000.
- I vote yes.
And with that, do we have anyone signed up for public comment?
- John, are you ready to go next?
- I'm always ready.
$400,000 is not a lot of money.
$400,000 is not gonna go too far.
But all the conversations that I've been hearing, it's not indicative of reparation.
It's indicative of programs that were already previously in place in other places.
If you're gonna do reparations, do reparations.
If you're gonna give people money for reparations, then you get them money to repair the damage that's done.
You don't give them money and then demand and tell them what they can do with it.
Call a spade a spade.
And don't let them twist it into something that is other than what it's represented to be, because then the backlash is gonna be on you later on.
- Thank you all for coming.
And with that said, Alderman Rainey, if you don't have any final comment, you could move adjournment.
- I move adjournment.
- I second.
Thank you all.
- I'm good.
Are you dressed and ready to go to graduation?
Do you have a graduation outfit on now?
It's a special day, baby.
It's always tough to end with a, you know, "This isn't reparation."
Because it is.
Any direct benefit to address the damages to a targeted community is repair.
And that's what it is on a local level.
But I also feel the frustrations of a resident that says this isn't reparations.
It's not enough.
You know, I appreciate your effort.
I--I respect and understand their frustrations, and for me that's frustrating, because I want to do more.
Are you ready?
[laughs] Yay, Bailee!
- [laughs] - All right, get it on.
Turn it on.
- I'll tell you right now, I'm just excited.
My daughter is graduating from Northwestern.
She's going to Yale.
And I'm just going to leave my work for a little while and go celebrate Bailee.
- So you know this is just gonna be the president and the mayor.
- That's fine.
I don't care.
It is Bailee Rue graduation.
Okay, go out there and walk in here.
- Oh, my God, seriously?
- Go on.
[chuckling] - Oh, my God.
- Go around the corner.
["Pomp and Circumstance" playing] Okay, Bailee.
- Yay, Bailee!
[laughs] - Yay!
Have a seat.
- Now I sit.
- Now you sit.
♪ ♪ And this just plays until it starts, 'cause that's what you would be doing.
- Yeah, we'd be walking in.
- I'm a bit underwhelmed right now.
- [laughs] ♪ ♪ [mellow music] [laughter] ♪ ♪ - Where you trying to go on this little bike?
♪ ♪ - Tonight, video has surfaced of an African American man being chased down and killed in a Georgia community.
His family says he was just out jogging.
- Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Louisville first responder, shot eight times and killed by police.
- This is 46-year-old George Floyd.
He is the man who died in police custody on Monday.
- Over the last several hours, the situation here has really deteriorated.
Police started pushing and clearing out the street.
[tense music] - Black Lives Matter!
all: Black Lives Matter!
- I am not okay.
We're experiencing the trauma of racial terror and Black public execution.
And people hurting and dying and grief.
all: Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist cops have got to go!
Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist cops have got to go!
Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist cops have got to go!
Hey, hey, ho, ho, these racist cops have got to go!
Hey, hey, ho, ho!
- Let me tell you, justice is just the minimum.
We have had chattel enslavement, Jim Crow redlining, police terror now we're dealing with today.
It is genocide is what is happening to our Black people in this nation.
The ally community, thank you for being here, being bold, but it's not enough that you come to these places and you stand here.
You must go to your own places, and you must raise your voice in the same manner, with the same energy in your private spaces!
Do the right thing!
[cheers and applause] - The ground shifted.
There was COVID, just shutting everything down, and suddenly, there was Ahmaud Arbery.
And then there was Breonna Taylor.
Then there was George Floyd.
There was so much going on to do with race in this country that it has left me spinning.
Being white, being a woman, and being middle aged, I don't trust my voice to be a legitimate advocate.
I mean, I hope I am.
Now people want to know more, and I don't know that I am qualified.
Being white, it is so easy to put up a yard sign and not really even understand the issues or understand what that really means.
That can really lead to complacency and that you think you've done your job.
You can't abdicate responsibility.
We white people are the people who have to write the check.
You know, my heart supports it.
- Now in Evanston, a battle over the city's reparations plan.
- Lots in the community are questioning why the money goes directly to the banks, why people can't have a cash payment.
- Claiming that is was nothing more than a housing program.
- The Evanston city council is set to vote Monday on a bill to give reparations to Black residents, but some residents are saying, "Not so fast."
- Good morning, everyone.
My name is Sebastian Nalls, and I'm one of the organizers with Evanston Rejects Racist Reparations.
This program, as it is, is incomplete, and it makes no sense to go forward with it.
- How divisive this Evanston reparations bill is becoming.
We ask that everyone just wait.
Go back to the drawing board.
We implore the Evanston public to join us in resisting this initiative.
- Reparations are meant to close the racial wealth gap.
The program that the city of Evanston is offering does not do that at all.
We want a real program.
We don't want a program that's a fraud.
This is important.
They say in America that only one in six white people support reparations.
The fact that so many white people in Evanston support this... - [laughs] - That should tell you it's not reparations.
- That's the warning.
- Just based--I'm just talking about the data.
You know, what is happening now is we're gonna recycle programming that we've already done for decades and decades that hasn't helped to close the racial wealth gap.
- Now, when you're incepting something that you're trying to bring out, it has to be near perfect.
And this is just a bunch of sloppy crap that they have put together.
They're literally throwing it against the wall to see what will stick and what will not stick.
- There are possible legal ramifications where the whole program in and of itself could get thrown out.
And that itself could shut down the reparations movement as a whole.
- Whatever the vote tomorrow, it's not over.
It's just beginning.
And we are going to follow them and this process in Evanston.
- My hope is, is that some of these aldermen will finally recognize, okay, maybe this isn't the right thing to do.
- I think what they're offering us is an insult, and we decided elderly homeowners should get the first reparations.
That's gonna be spread over a 10-year period.
And now the city of Evanston is balking on that.
- The proposal, as from what I understand it, is they're trying to vote for the first $400,000 to go for a housing program.
It should not be.
- Now's the time for you to stand up and show what you're about.
We hear what they say, okay, we read what they put in paper.
But then I'll wait to the vote, okay, before I make any kind of decision about the consistency of Evanston with saying one thing, and then doing totally the opposite when it comes to application.
[tense music] ♪ ♪ - I had been really obsessed with defending the case for reparations on a local level.
And it was just nonstop.
- Calling the meeting to order.
It was sleepless nights.
It was always doing more research.
And I did that while managing the rest of my life being the alderman of the Fifth Ward.
Technically, it's part time.
I can't work 40, 60 hours a week for $15,000 a year.
I can't do it.
My first responsibility is to my children, and I have sacrificed a lot being the alderman.
And it's been uncomfortable for my family.
My daughter has not been able to even walk the dog in peace sometimes.
People have intimidated her.
It's been a lot of stress on my mother to see her only child treated so cruelly.
And then just the time.
Because of the way that I serve, I don't know how to say, "I can't help you right now, homeless family."
"Find another way."
I only know how to find a solution for them.
I only know how to do everything that I can to help them.
- And while the whole nation is watching, there are people that are waiting for this to fail.
- Because I'm not able to balance it, I'm not able to turn the service off, so I have just committed to the balance of this term.
And then after that, I'll have to heal and repair damages that have been done to my life and to my family.
- But for our Black residents, I just ask for your patience.
♪ ♪ - Good evening, everyone.
I am Mayor Hagerty, mayor of the city of Evanston.
It is Monday, March 22, 2021, and I call this public hearing to order.
I'm now gonna open it, and we'll start with Alderperson Simmons.
- Thank you all for establishing this path forward to reparations in Evanston.
The reparations subcommittee recommends city council adopt Resolution 37-R-21 to authorize the implementation of the local reparation restorative housing program, and the initial program budget of $400,000.
I move approval.
- We are now gonna move to public comment.
Illinois-- - Did you see who's in the meeting?
- Dr. Sandy Darity first.
- Oh, he's--he's anti.
- The Evanston plan does very little about the equity gap produced by segregation and redlining.
- It perpetuated the systemic racism and added age discrimination.
- We want cash payments.
Robin promised us that.
- And the push forward appears to be more oriented towards photo ops and marketing something that simply isn't true.
- First, I want to support the passage.
I also think we should have on the agenda cash payments.
- [laughs] I can't tell if he was for or against it.
- Don't slam the door on something that can be positive for our community.
- That's right, Miss Adams.
- Yes, it's small, but it's a start, and we must start somewhere.
It is a sign that Evanston cares about families that look like mine.
- If you vote no tonight, you will be on the wrong side of history.
- If we do not step forward now, all of these other reparations programs in the United States will probably suffer as well.
- But most of all, we in Evanston are leading the way to heal a nation.
- I love her.
- Thank you to Alderman Rue Simmons.
Not only did you push us forward, but you made us believe we could do it.
I think this step is gonna pull all of America forward.
- City clerk, could you please take the roll on this historic vote tonight?
- Alderman Fisk.
- Alderman Braithwaite.
- Alderman Wynne.
- Alderman Wilson.
- Alderman Simmons.
- Alderman Suffredin.
- Alderman Revelle.
- Alderman Rainey.
- And Alderman Fleming.
- All right, so on a 8-to-1 vote, the Evanston city council approved adoption of resolution 37-R-27 authorizing the implementation of the Evanston local reparations program.
- Good job.
- [applauding] - Thank you.
- Good night.
- Good night.
- Good night.
- Nice job.
- Congratulations to you.
- We did it.
- [crying] That's my baby.
- You okay, mother?
- That made me so happy.
I wish we didn't have those negative comments, though.
- You did a great job.
Congratulations to you.
- Congratulations to you.
- I'm so very proud.
She's been amazing all her life.
This is just one more amazing something from my daughter.
[soft music] ♪ ♪ - This week, Evanston, Illinois, made history.
- The nation's first government-backed reparations initiative for Black Americans was approved this week in Evanston, Illinois.
- In a near unanimous vote, Evanston city council voted to approve the first installment of $400,000 to be distributed among eligible Black households.
- The money can be used for down payments, mortgage payments, repairs, or home improvements.
- Many hope the historic program will pave the way for more reparations in other cities.
♪ ♪ - This is the international headquarters.
But really it is the headquarters.
It's just--it's just myself, and most recently, we have an employee, Shawn.
I have launched a nonprofit called First Repair.
"First" because we are the first in the nation to have a funded reparation plan with tangible steps and measurable outcomes.
So this is the reception area.
It's Shawn's office, and it's our conference room.
And here's our break room.
[laughs] And then here's my office.
There's really nothing to it.
This is where I do my work every day.
It's what I do full time now.
I retired this year as alderman, and now I'm able to singularly focus on reparations in Evanston and beyond.
There has been great interest in advancing reparations beyond Evanston.
That passing vote has set a precedent, and it's shown a possibility that others are now looking to as a reference, as, "Okay, they did this in Evanston.
We can do this here."
♪ ♪ - Good morning.
Thank you all for your sponsorship on H.R.
We're so excited.
- I'm so excited.
- Thank you.
This idea of H.R.
40 was to finally have us in dignity, and have the American people say, "That's the right thing to do."
Good morning, Mr. Chairman.
- How are you?
- I can't thank you enough for this markup.
- Today is going to be a long, contentious one.
- Well, I'm ready for this.
I feel a moment in history.
Let's do this, Mr. Chairman.
[laughs] [gavel clacks] - I now call up H.R.
40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.
This legislation is long overdue.
- Mr. Chairman, I'm very pleased to be able to speak in support of my legislation H.R.
40, which I introduced, that establishes a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans.
It was historic.
The first time the bill ever got to the moment of something that is so integral to the process of governance, which is called a markup, which means the bill is on its way to a possible vote on the floor and to become law.
And here we are today, marking up for the first time in the history of the United States of America any legislation that deals directly with the years and centuries of slavery.
- Look, everyone knows how evil slavery was.
Wrong as wrong could be.
But this is not--this-- this is not-- not what we want to be passing.
- Reparation is divisive.
It speaks to the fact that we are a hapless, hopeless race that never did anything but wait for white people to show up and help us.
And it's a falsehood.
- I would offer that I think this is the wrong path for the future of our nation.
And I think that is the problem here.
And I think this is not the direction we want to carry our country forward.
- The opposition was, "That happened then.
This is now."
A very weak argument.
A total refusal to really see slavery for what it was.
It was a crime.
But no one paid the price.
40 is a concentrated effort to right a wrong, and to do it with dignity and study and respect.
I can't imagine why any one of us would not vote for H.R.
40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals, and I ask my colleagues to vote yes on this bill.
- Reporting quorum being present, the question is on the motion to report the bill H.R.
40 as amended favorably to the House.
Those in favor, respond by saying aye.
- Those no.
- The ayes have it, and the bill is ordered and reported favorably.
- Good job, Senate majority.
- Thank you.
- Thank you.
I had a great weight on my shoulders that was lifted a little bit.
It was so emotional to see that the journey had made a leap.
♪ ♪ What I want to see happen is that we move the bill to the floor, and it's urgent that it gets passed.
And my commitment is, it must be passed.
There must be a commission.
I'm pinching myself to see if this is really happening.
40 is the significant, singular affirmation of us in our journey.
This place called America is as much a part of us and we are a part of it.
♪ ♪ - The purpose of this meeting is to get you prepared for when the release of the application occurs on September 21.
The idea is that hopefully we can get funding out the door disbursed by the end of November, beginning of December.
- The kitchen.
I need the kitchen-- those are the original cabinets, and they're dry rotted.
They're just falling apart.
This is falling down in the bottom there.
The drawers is falling apart.
See the dry rot up there.
The cupboards is falling.
Disconnected up there.
That's what--see the floor?
- Well, we're going to go down to Fleetwood-Jourdain, and we're going to fill out an application for the housing restoration program for the first phase of reparations for Blacks in Evanston and hopefully get some compensation for my mom.
♪ ♪ - Miss Carmen will help you right over here.
Do you have any documentation with you?
- Yeah, she got the closing and got the trust deed.
♪ ♪ - Do you have your driver's license with you?
- I do.
- Or state ID?
Okay, I'll take anything.
- I have a obituary that has my mother's name listed in it.
So that was here 1947, his Evanston senior year in high school.
- Yearbook, and there he is.
- Oh, nice.
- So it shows that he was a graduate of Foster School and Evanston Township High School.
- And you are all set.
- Well, thank you much.
You're a scholar and a saint.
- You're welcome.
- Submitting, submitting.
[cheers and applause] - Good job.
- Good job.
[laughter] - Thank you.
- That's great.
♪ ♪ - My understanding is that reparations is an attempt to repair the harm that it's cost us economically.
When I started looking, no, this is not the answer to reparations that we're approaching in Evanston.
But the longest journey begins with the first step.
Either you're part of the solution, or you're part of the problem.
I don't want to be a part of the problem.
If this is the way we have to start with it, let's start.
We have 10 years.
But I want this to be the boilerplate.
I want this to be the initiative for cities all over the United States to accept that we're here to stay.
- Good morning.
How are you?
Hi, Mr. Sutton.
How are you?
Is this one me?
- First, we're gonna have an introduction of our new committee members, Carl Sutton.
- Being a third-generation Evanstonian and an active member in the community, I've had a chance to realize that Evanston now stands at the brink of history.
We're in a very good position now to set the tone which I hope the nation will pick up the ball and follow.
We are under the eyes now of the whole world.
[soft music] ♪ ♪ - So you know what we need, actually, is the labels.
The name tags.
- Oh, okay.
- Okay, I got to prepare something to say.
We are ready to receive about 50 leaders that have been working on local reparation initiatives in their communities.
Has anyone showed up?
- The value of Evanston and the work of Robin Rue Simmons is, it's one of those turning points.
Because there is this pent-up yearning for a concrete example that it can be done.
- The extra folders are over there.
- Symbolically, Evanston woke up the world.
♪ ♪ So everyone, municipalities, university, I mean, is looking to Evanston.
And the hope is that what we all end up doing is creating a national network of groups.
- This conference will and should go down in history as the Evanston Conference.
It is a distinct honor to be representing the CARICOM Reparations Commission at this historical event.
- I bring you greetings from New Orleans, Louisiana.
- I am with World One Development in Tulsa, Oklahoma, home of Black Wall Street.
- I'm from Los Angeles.
- Amherst, Massachusetts.
- I'm from Philadelphia.
- Omaha, Nebraska.
- When I started this work, I simply was trying to repair some of the injury that had been done in my own community.
- City of Tulsa.
- I had no idea how big this whole local reparations movement would get.
- I'm Mayor Michael B. Hancock of Denver, Colorado.
- From Atlanta, Georgia.
- I'm a founding member of The Kansas City chapter of the National Black United Front.
- In 2020, we talked about reparations, but we didn't know how to go about doing it.
But one day, I was looking at TV, and I saw this bad sister out of Evanston, Illinois.
[laughter] She inspired me.
I said, "If they can do it in Evanston, Illinois, why can't we do it in Detroit?"
We're 85% Black.
- For me, this is the most important thing that we as a people should be focusing on in this moment.
This is our shot to address all the disparities, and in one-- you know, one container.
- This country says that it values liberty and justice for all and equity and inclusion and freedom.
- So San Francisco has a population of over... - That's not been the reality of Black America.
- Less than 6% of the population is African American.
- Recognizing the legal challenges that we know are coming up, we still need to be about the task of beginning to create a new narrative and a new legal framework.
- I realize that now I'm a part of a movement, a national movement, one that has great momentum to finally grapple with the injury inflicted by slavery and the deep-seated racism that we endure today.
We're here to represent and advocate for H.R.
We're here for H.R.
We're all here for the things that empower our community.
Just want to make sure you had this flier.
- Thank you so much.
- Thank you.
Thanks for being here.
- Good luck to you today.
- Thank you.
Trauma in the Black community runs so deep.
The injury is so deep.
It's been passed down through generations.
And for us to move forward, everyone in our community, all Americans, need to commit to reconciling with that past.
[cheers and applause] My name is Robin Rue Simmons, and I am here in solidarity with each of you as we fight for the issues we value.
Reparations for people of African descent in America is long overdue.
We don't want a piece of freedom.
We want the whole package, and that's reparations.
40 now, reparations now.
[cheers and applause] [hopeful music] ♪ ♪ There are thousands of communities all across this nation that need repair.
♪ ♪ It is my life's work.
I feel truly assigned to do this work.
I wake up every morning with an assignment on, what is my next action?
Who should I try to connect with?
Who am I gonna meet?
What new idea?
[thunder rumbling] ♪ ♪ I will not be satisfied until I see that quality of life for Black Americans is truly on par with that of white Americans.
♪ ♪ We have made a start in Evanston, but there is so much more work that needs to be done.
♪ ♪ [upbeat music] ♪ ♪ - Let's give it up, please, for Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.
[cheers and applause] ♪ ♪ - I declare and proclaim that America has just gotten a gift.
They have the ability now to call themselves the supporters of the Juneteenth national holiday.
[cheers and applause] This is America.
The numbers kept coming.
They kept coming.
They kept coming.
We haven't seen these numbers.
415 men and women of the United States Congress voted for the Juneteenth holiday.
[cheers and applause] Something about that word, Juneteenth.
[cheers and applause] [poignant music] ♪ ♪