: ‘This is our shot’: Evanston’s road to reparations gets a documentary spotlight on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

by | Jan 14, 2023 | Stock Market

A documentary about the emotional and groundbreaking fight for reparations in a Chicago suburb will premiere on PBS on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and chronicles “history in the making,” its filmmakers say. “The Big Payback,” which made its public debut last summer at the Tribeca Film Festival, shines a light on the first publicly funded reparations for Black Americans, which have so far given $25,000 each to 16 Evanston, Ill., residents, for what’s called the Restorative Housing Program.

The film is fitting and timely, and comes as another big, first-of-its-kind push for reparations is underway at the state level in California — where a task force working to study reparations is set to submit a final report this summer — and as other cities around the nation consider their own programs to try to address harms against African Americans that started with slavery and have continued with systemic and institutional racism. Evanston city officials call the program just the first phase of reparations, but it remains controversial — both because some people think Black people aren’t owed reparations at all, and also because some Black people don’t think a tightly controlled distribution of funds solely for housing-related purposes is enough. The film explores that conflict and more as it introduces a cast of characters including Robin Rue Simmons, the now former alderwoman who was the driving force behind the …

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