Posted on March 5, 2024

Chicago Activist Revives Call for Reparations Amid Outrage Over Mayor’s Payouts to Migrants

Atlanta Black Star, March 4, 2024

A Chicago activist has revived a reparations campaign that calls for an annual exemption from property taxes after Mayor Brandon Johnson approved $9,000 housing payouts to migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border.

The mayor’s action led to outrage in the Black community due to concerns the incoming wave would eventually price them out of their own neighborhoods.

Howard Ray, the founder of ReRan who last year unsuccessfully campaigned for the alderman seat in Chicago’s 37th ward, blasted Mayor Johnson for the $750-a-month payments to incoming migrants that is intended to help cover their rent and other living costs.


Ray sought to highlight the racial disparity between incoming migrants and the city’s longtime Black residents, claiming that the Black community had long demanded similar public funds but never received any, although he failed to mention decades of subsidized housing for Black Chicagoans.

Ray vowed that his latest effort on reparations was “just a start,” while noting that the Black community in Chicago still held onto grievances that dated “back to slavery.”

Ray’s push for reparations emerged in 2023 as he claimed Black Chicagoans were increasingly moving away from the area due to rising county and city property taxes.

Ironically, Ray’s movement is based in Illinois, which was a free state from the day it was admitted to the union in 1818. However, Ray highlighted the lingering injustices of the Jim Crow era in Southern states, which led many Black people to migrate north in search of freedom.

“The injustice that has been done to us as Black Americans over the years, from slavery to Jim Crow, the lynching, redlining, numerous amount of things,” including disproportionate incarceration for marijuana offenses, justify the need for reparations, Ray said.


“They’re using our taxes to support and advocate for the illegal immigrants. And in the meantime, we’re getting pushed out.”


The situation in Chicago exposed long-held resentment among Black residents who felt historically overlooked by local government leaders despite years of public funding for community and economic development programs.


“We’re losing a lot of the Black culture in Chicago,” Ray said.

“A lot of the Blacks are moving out of Chicago because of crime and taxes … moving to the red states, the Southern states. By not paying property taxes, [Black people] will be able to be saved.”

Reparations in the form of tax relief would serve to compensate Black Americans for the enduring legacy of slavery more than 158 years after the end of the Civil War, Ray noted.

“We’re trying to preserve the Blacks to stay” in Chicago, Ray emphasized. “We don’t want our people to leave this city. We built this city.”