Evanston resident thrilled to be in 1st group of reparations recipients

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- Weeks later, Ramona Burton still can't believe she was one of the 16 chosen for Evanston's reparations housing program.

More than 600 people applied. The first group of recipients were picked last month in a drawing. Burton said she got a call from someone she knows who was in the room.

"I'm like, are you telling the truth?" she asked over the phone.

Burton is going to receive $25,000. Recipients must use it for a home down payment, mortgage payment or home repairs. Burton said she plans to fix up her house. She and her late husband purchased the home 46 years ago.

"I want to get a new roof put on my house. I want to get new windows," she said.

Burton has lived in Evanston her whole life. Her parents moved to the city sometime in the 1920s or early 30s.

Burton knows the history of Evanston, but she doesn't recall experiencing any racism growing up.

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"I had Black as well as white friends," she said.

Burton said she learned of the reparations program at a town hall at First Church of God Christian Life Center in Evanston. That happened shortly after the city council approved the program in 2019 for some Black residents.

Her pastor, Monté Dillard Sr., said he hopes this pushes Congress to pass reparations for Black people.

"For Evanston to be the first city to do this in the country is huge," he said.

There's been some criticism that $25,000 is not enough. But Burton said it's better than nothing.

"I just hope that everybody that signed up will eventually be picked and I wish it could be expanded to more and more cities in the United States," she said.
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