Beyond Symbol:  Culture & Reparations

Public dialogues on how reparations for Black communities can move forward at a local level, and the role of arts and culture within the movement.  Each session will include a panel of five co-hosts and a special guest.  Made possible with support from Humanities NY.  Online, free.  Registration required

Reparations in Evanston
Wednesday, April 28 – 4pm

Guests: Robin Rue Simmons — Alderman, Evanston, IL; Director of Innovation and Outreach at Sunshine Enterprises; Chief Strategist at Ujima Solutions Group.

Co-hosts:  Catherine Mbali Green-Johnson – Executive Director, ARTs East NY
Amy Andrieux – Executive Director, Museum of Contemporary Arts of the African Diaspora (MoCADA)
Jordana De La Cruz – Co-Director, JACK
Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director, Laundromat Project
Ryan Gilliam
– Executive Director, FABnyc

Evanston, IL is set to become the first U.S. city to compensate Black Americans.  The first phase of the reparations initiative — funded by tax revenue from the city’s recreational marijuana sales and private donations — is a homeownership assistance program.

We’ll be speaking with Robin Rue Simmons, civic entrepreneur and alderman of Evanston’s 5th Ward, who led the passing of the nation’s first reparations program and chairs the Reparations Committee.

Link to full bios on co-hosts and guests.


Past Events:  See videos of our past conversations here.

Future events:
Reparations and NYC: June 16, 4pm Register

ReparationsNYC is a public and creative dialogue on the need for the New York City government to make reparations for its historic support of the enslavement of Black people, and ensuing legacies of discriminatory practices, including redlining, inequities in education, and policing, which have harmed Black communities.

ReparationsNYC programming will include public dialogue, learning opportunities, and arts and culture projects that address
– the history of slavery and its legacies in NYC, including the extraordinary resilience of Black communities
– the history and demands of the U.S. reparations movement as led by Black communities
– how reparations have been enacted in other cities, states, and nations
– how material, cultural, and symbolic forms of reparation can be made by NYC

We are inspired by all those who have led the reparations movement in our country over generations.  Our intention is to listen, learn, and support their efforts.

Those who have been harmed must be the ones to articulate the forms of redress which reparations must take.  However, all of us can insist that truth-telling, recognition of grievous wrong, and acceptance of responsibility to fully address that wrong is enacted by our government at every level.


Reparations Readings

H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act

“Reparations – Has the Time Finally Come?” – Nkechi Taifa (a history of the Reparations movement)

Ta-Nahesi Coates’ Opening Statement on Reparations at House Hearing (6/19/2019) – video

“H.R. 40 is not a Symbolic Act.  It’s a Path to Restorative Justice” – Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, U.S. House of Representatives (ACLU)

“The Case for Reparations” – Ta-Nahesi Coates (The Atlantic)

Reparations Platform, Movement for Black Lives

“It Is Time for Reparations”, Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times

FAB Staff Essays
The Reparations Movement:  Asheville NC
1863 Civil War Draft Riots: an attack on Black New Yorkers


Excerpt from The Movement for Black Lives ‘Reparations Now Toolkit’

An official acknowledgment and apology for harm, public education, or memorial about the harm; and

Compensation to a specific, defined group of individuals harmed by a violation, including descendants, as well as family and community members of individuals directly targeted for harm who were adversely affected; and

Action to restore individuals harmed to the position they were in before the initial harm occurred; and

Action to stop the systems, institutions, and practices causing the harm; and

Changes to laws, institutions, and systems aimed at ensuring that harm will not happen again.

Photo: A young girl attends a slavery reparations protest outside of the New York Life Insurance Company offices on August 9, 2002, in New York City. Mario Tama/Getty Images