At BlackRoots Alliance our mission is to support the safety and liberation of all Black people, promote Black leadership, and cultivate Black-centered community transformation as we work collectively to build social, economic, and racial justice, heal our communities, and fundamentally transform our society. We fight for our liberation from a place rooted in love for all Black people.
Today, states and cities across America are calling for councils or task forces, to study the connection between the State, chattel slavery, discrimination, and racial disparities in the Black community. Last year, California became the first state to adopt a law to study and develop proposals for potential reparations to descendants of enslaved people and those impacted by slavery. More recently, St. Paul, Minnesota, created a committee dedicated to reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans.
Inside our capitol at Springfield, state lawmakers are introducing reparation bills that start conversations on statewide involvement with multiple aspects of anti-Blackness. This month, the House heard the first reading of HB0997 introduced by Representative LaShawn Ford. This bill creates hiring preference for American descendants of chattel slavery which provides reparations through the framework of employment.
Chicago has taken some action against the historical racist structures they’ve built and enforced. In 2015, Chicago paid $5.2 million to several dozens of people tortured by the Chicago Police “Midnight Crew,” from the 1960s and 1970s. The midnight crew was a group within the Chicago Police Department given specific instructions to harass people of color. Reparations looked like direct pay compensation, a change in the city's public school curriculum to teach about police torture, waived tuition at city colleges for victims and families, a memorial monument, and a formal apology from the former mayor, Rahm Emanuel.
BlackRoots Alliance has partnered with Earthseed Black Family Archive Project on their facilitation of the second Ancestral Reparations Cohort. The Earthseed Black Family Archive Project is a collective archival history project with the intention of healing through exploration, creation, and storytelling. It also explores reparations as part of a journey to heal their family stories. Nine cohort members will be creating something at the end of their time in the project that can serve as a visual representation of their research and experience in the program.
We’ve also canvassed Chicago communities asking people for their biggest imagination of what reparations could be and how it would impact their families. As we move forward, we want to bring more diverse Black perspectives into the conversation because Black people are not a monolith, so we want to ensure that all Black voices have an opportunity to speak up and speak out about reparations.
So let's keep the conversation going. Join us and Earthseed Black Family Archive Project Saturday, February 25th, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm CST for our free event, Reparations: Past, Present, and Future Models of Healing and Liberation. We’ll be bringing together thought leaders, cultural workers, and activists to discuss what reparations could mean for Black folks living in America specifically in the Chicagoland area.