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FirstRepair to Host Leaders from Across the Nation

New York, NY — Dr. Ron Daniels, Convener of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) announced today that the Commission will convene a National Symposium in Evanston, IL, December 9-11, 2021 for community-based advocates/stakeholders, elected officials, academic and philanthropic partners working on municipal reparatory justice initiatives.

The Symposium will be hosted by FirstRepair, the organization founded by Robin Rue Simmons, the former Alderman credited with being the architect and champion of the Evanston Reparations Initiative. Evanston has gained national and international attention as the first city-wide reparations program in the United States. In August of 2020, NAARC certified the Evanston Reparations Initiative as a model for municipal reparations that can be replicated across the country.

The Symposium is designed to afford participants an opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge about the background, historical basis, evolution and process that led to Evanston emerging as the first municipality to award reparations to eligible African American residents. The experience will begin with Dino Robinson, Founder of the Shorefront Legacy Center, conducting a tour highlighting Evanston’s historically Black neighborhoods, redlining and other racially discriminating practices.

The tour will serve as background for a series of working sessions where Participants will learn more about the Evanston Reparations Model and share their experiences building municipal reparatory justice initiatives in various cities.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, Chairman of the Evanston City Council Sub-Committee on Reparations and the Members and Staff of the Sub-Committee will serve as Resource Persons for the Symposium. The world-renowned Faith Temple Church will be the site for the working sessions. The Hyatt House Chicago Evanston will serve as the host hotel.

The Symposium will also include a National Town Hall Meeting where local residents will have an opportunity to interact with leading reparations advocates and leaders in the U.S. and globally. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Lead Sponsor of HR-40, the Congressional bill that will establish a National Reparations Commission, has been invited to be a Special Guest for the Town Hall Meeting. Organizers hope to duplicate the inspirational spirit of the Town Hall Meeting in December of 2019 that helped to build momentum for the Evanston Reparations Initiative. The First Church of God Christian Life Center will host the Town Hall Meeting again.

“We want this gathering to be a learning and sharing experience for the amazing leaders that are part of the rapidly growing municipal reparations movement,” Dr. Ron Daniels said. “We hope to create a national network among advocates working on reparations at the local level and to establish a national resource center for municipal reparations in Evanston administrated by FirstRepair,” he continued.

The organizers are limiting the invitations to 50 Participants and Partners from around the country to create an intimate, roundtable atmosphere conducive to quality sharing and interaction. The Symposium is likely to be the first in a series of such gatherings given the tremendous number of municipal reparations initiatives that are springing up across the country. With the establishment of a national resource center, Evanston could become the focal point for a national municipal reparations movement.

Kamm Howard, National Co-Chairperson of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations has spent considerable time meeting and working with community stakeholders and members of City Council in Evanston providing advice on the process of implementing the Reparations Program.  He offered these thoughts on the significance of the Symposium: “This gathering is the next logical and radical step to laying the foundation to synchronize local reparations in the U.S. This requires our collective thoughts on the purpose, goals and objectives of local reparations to proliferate around the country. ”

Robin Rue Simmons enthusiastically concurs with Dr. Daniels and Kamm Howard.  FirstRepair is eager to host the Symposium. “As Local leaders call for Congress to pass HR40, we are also building a powerful movement and process for reparatory justice locally,” she commented. “Local leaders need tools, resources, thought partners and best practices to support their Black communities in advancing Reparations. The experts are living in every historically Black neighborhood in this country.  Reparations is a process, not a transaction. This Symposium will support us on the road to improving and expanding our goals within our own communities,” she concluded.