Incoming Amherst councilor representing town at national reparations forum

  • Reparations for Amherst co-founder Michele Miller of Amherst is in Illinois for the national symposium. CONTRIBUTED

Staff Writer
Published: 12/9/2021 8:02:03 PM
Modified: 12/9/2021 8:01:36 PM

AMHERST — An Amherst councilor-elect who co-founded the Reparations for Amherst group, which has successfully created a reparations fund for addressing past harms toward African heritage residents, will be participating in a national town hall Friday evening.

Amherst’s Michele Miller will be in Evanston, Illinois as one of 50 national leaders on reparations taking part in a three-day symposium, including Friday’s keynote address by actor Danny Glover, whose starring roles have included the “Lethal Weapon” movies.

“I’m honored to be representing Amherst at this historical event and encourage you to join the town hall, if you are able,” Miller wrote in an email to the Town Council and other councilors-elect.

On Thursday morning, Miller’s flight was setting down in Chicago in advance of the event, being convened at Evanston’s First Church of God Christian Life Center by the National African-American Reparations Commission and FirstRepair, an organization created by former Evanston councilor Robin Rue Simmons. Rue Simmons helped lead the first-in-the-nation reparations initiative and offered consulting to Amherst for its plan.

The town hall can be livestreamed at 7 p.m. Friday at ibw21.org or reparationscomm.org.

Over the three days, Miller will be participating in working sessions at Faith Temple Church to share information about municipal reparatory justice initiatives.

The working sessions are designed to give participants an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge about the background, historical basis, evolution and process that led to Evanston becoming the first municipality in the country to award reparations to eligible African American residents.

For Glover, who serves as an ambassador for the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent and as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund, this will be his second visit to Evanston to support the reparations initiative.

Also at the event will be U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, the lead sponsor of HR 40, the congressional bill to establish a National Reparations Commission.

Rue Simmons said in a statement that a powerful movement and process for reparatory justice is being built at the local level.

“Local leaders need tools, resources, thought partners and best practices to support their Black communities in advancing reparations,” Rue Simmons said.

In a March 22 vote, the Evanston City Council adopted Resolution 37-R-27 authorizing the implementation of the Evanston Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program and the initial budget of $400,000. Qualifying households receive up to $25,000 for down payments or home repairs.

This came after the city set up a reparations fund in November 2019 as part of its 2020 budget, using tax revenue collected from sales of recreational cannabis to create a $10 million fund.

The Amherst Town Council approved its own reparations fund in June for making restitution to Black residents and leading to a process of reconciliation. Last month, councilors put $206,000 in this account from free cash. The African Heritage Reparations Assembly is a committee that will develop a plan for how money from this account will be spent.


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