‘I never thought I’d be chosen’: Meet one of the first 16 recipients of Evanston Reparations

Ramona Burton is scheduled to receive a $25,000 reparation grant. His number was one of the top 16 selected in a ping-pong ball draw last week that ranked all 122 “ancestral” candidates. (Family photo by Patricia Render)

Ramona Burton, 73, first learned about the local reparations effort when Danny Glover visited her local church, First Church of God, in December 2019.

“But I never thought I would ever be chosen. Especially the first 16,” Burton said.

On January 13, the Evanston Reparations Committee met at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center to obtain numbers that would identify the first recipients of the $25,000 Restorative House grants – and Burton’s number, 872113295, was one of the first 16 drawn, making her eligible to receive funds.

When Burton’s number was called, she was watching the selection process remotely, but her audio wasn’t working, so when they pulled up and read a number, she didn’t know who they were calling. Luckily, Delois Robinson, one of her relatives, was there and she called Burton with the good news.

Burton’s closest friends and family are excited for her. She said she has a 52-year-old son living in a suburb of Atlanta who was happy to hear that too: “My son said, ‘Oh, I’m happy to see the white man doing it. something for us.'”

Ramona Burton’s husband Edward and son Brandon are seen at Brandon’s graduation from the University of Illinois-Champaign. Edward Burton died in 1993. (Family photo)

‘Ancestor’ claims take priority

The Evanston Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program is the first initiative of the city’s $10 million commitment “to eradicate the effects of past systemically racist practices by the city government and all city-affiliated organizations.” The first $400,000 of the reparations program is earmarked for housing.

Applicants deemed eligible for the program and selected to participate can receive up to $25,000 in funds to purchase a home, renovate a home or pay a mortgage. The home must be in Evanston and must be the applicant’s primary residence. The amount of US$400,000 is enough to fund 16 grants of US$25,000.

To participate, Black Evanstonians must fit into one of three categories:

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