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City of Chicago launches reparations task force

Chicago takes a major step towards enacting reparations program
Chicago takes a major step towards enacting reparations program 02:36

CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago is taking a major step towards enacting a reparations program as Mayor Brandon Johnson announced a new task force examining how the city can remedy what he calls policies that harmed Black Chicagoans from the slavery era to the present day.

How will the money be dispersed, who qualifies, and how will it be funded moving forward?

Those are just some of the questions a newly formed task force will tackle as the mayor rolls out his plan two days before the U.S. commemorates the end of slavery this Wednesday, Juneteenth.

City of Chicago launches reparations task force 02:12

"It is imperative that it is now the time to deliver good on reparations for the people of Chicago. And particularly Black people in the City of Chicago," Johnson said. 

On the week of Juneteenth, Chicago took its biggest step yet to offer reparations to descendants of enslaved Africans. Johnson signed an executive order launching a black reparations task force to design what comes next.

"We're gonna invest half a million dollars into the study of restoration and reparations for the City of Chicago. So that we can begin to move in the direction of complete liberation," Johnson said. 

Former Chicago Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) is part of Chicago's reparations advisory commission.

"It's not just give me a check. It's corrective. It makes us right so that we don't have the problems that we continue to have. It's not just being enslaved, but Jim Crow's laws and redlining," Sawyer said.

In 2021, descendants of enslaved Africans in Evanston began receiving reparations, which continue today.

It's all from $10 million set aside from taxing cannabis sales. Those selected receive $25,000, which they can apply toward a mortgage or home repairs.

Unlike Evanston, where it's real estate specific, could the Chicago model be much broader? 

"Yes, that's what I'm saying. The Evanston model was perfect for Evanston. We need to find a model that fits the City of Chicago," Sawyer said.

This year, Evanston expects 80 direct descendants of slaves to participate in its $25,000 reparations program.

Johnson's move comes as New York's governor and legislators in California have also addressed the matter.

Next up in Chicago, the mayor's task force will hold public hearings and conduct a study to develop plans for how to roll this out in coming years.

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