Group pushing for all descendants of slaves in Chicago to have property taxes waived

Activists say slavery took away Blacks' ability to build generational wealth, reparations are necessary

Jasmine Minor Image
Monday, March 11, 2024
Descendants of slaves in city should have property taxes waived: RERAN
A group is pushing for all descendants of slaves in Chicago to have their property taxes waived.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group is pushing for all descendants of slaves in Chicago to have their property taxes waived.

New billboards are up on the corner of Chicago Avenue and Austin Boulevard to bring awareness to the fight for reparations.

"We're on this campaign to be able to get Black Chicagoans not to have to pay property taxes," said Farrah Walker, with the RERAN Team.

Reconstruction Era Reparations Act Now, or RERAN, founder Howard Ray Jr. said the push for reparations is for those who are descendants of slaves. His team said slavery took away the ability to create generational wealth for Blacks, and those in Chicago are living that reality.

"We have a problem, where our Black citizens in Chicago are being kicked or forced out of Chicago, and they are going to the southern states to live comfortably," Ray said.

RERAN said they want to make this a referendum on the November ballot. They say they will use census data to track descendants of slaves who would qualify for this, regardless of financial status. They said if it were voted into action, it would last for generations.

"We have talked about 400 years," Walker said.

RELATED: Some say Evanston reparations program working, others say more to do years later

In 2019, Evanston took the lead with the nation's first municipally funded reparations program for residents with ancestors who were enslaved: $25,000 each toward home improvements, a down payment or mortgage assistance.

"We have so many areas of harm; therefore, we are going to have many, many forms and remedies required, but taking the first step is very important," First Repair founder Robin Rue Simmons said.

The Cook County Treasurer's Office said they collect about $18 billion in revenue from property taxes, and two thirds of those paying live in Chicago.

According to the 2022 Census American Community Survey, the Black homeownership rate in Chicago is the lowest of any other racial group, with just 35% owning homes.

It's what Ray said the referendum would fix.

"We need to be isolated, taken care of and brought back into society," Ray said.

RERAN organizers said they need 400,000 signatures to support their referendum by May 6.