A local task force dedicated to studying possible reparations for Black Americans will convene a series of open forums in Oak Park this week designed to gather feedback ahead of a reparations report that’s currently in the works.

The Oak Park Reparations Task Force is partnering with Dominican University in River Forest to host three forums designed to get feedback from community members on reparations.

According to the Oxford dictionary, reparations “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.” The term can also refer to “the compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state.”

Two focus groups, which are geared toward Black residents of Oak Park, will happen on Tuesday, May 24 and Thursday, May 26, both from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St.

A virtual forum will take place Wednesday, May 25. To register for either the in-person or virtual sessions, visit: https://bit.ly/oprf.

“Feedback from the focus groups will be used to create a survey of Black Oak Park residents that will be conducted and evaluated by a mix of students and faculty from Dominican University,” according to a statement released by the task force and Dominican University. “A Reparative Justice Report with recommendations will follow.”

Jacob Bucher, the founding dean of Dominican University’s College of Applied Social Sciences, said restorative justice is reflective of the university’s current mission.

“The task force is doing the heavy lifting and we are playing our part as a higher learning institution to contribute our research capacity to support community and social impact,” he said.

The Oak Park Reparations Task Force includes 12 Black Oak Park residents who are studying the “possibility of reparations for Black residents and the type of reparations that may be proposed,” according to the statement.

“The goal of the group is to provide recommendations to Oak Park taxing bodies, residents, and religious, nonprofit and for-profit institutions on ways to repair harm caused to the Black community due to decades of discriminatory laws and practices. 

“The purpose of the focus groups is to gather input on what residents know about reparations, if they believe reparations should be offered to Black Oak Park residents, and what form they might take.”

Last year, task force members pointed out in the statement, Evanston launched a local reparations program that gives eligible applicants up to $25,000 for the purpose of purchasing a home, home renovations or mortgage assistance.

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com

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