Mayoral Candidates Spar Over Reparations

CHICAGO (CBS) — All six candidates for Chicago mayor went head-to-head Wednesday night at a debate at the DuSable Museum of African-American history.

At the debate, the candidates – Rahm Emanuel, Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, Miguel Del Valle, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William “Dock” Walls – discussed job creation, budget deficits and whether they support reparations for descendants of slaves.

They all supported the notion of reparations but had different ideas about what reparations were, gave no details about who would pay them or where the money might come from. The forum was sponsored by the Chicago Defender, the city’s historic black newspaper.

Braun said she always has supported reparations. Chico said he would support them too but said he hoped any money could be used to help children augment their education. He also talked about money to help develop community businesses.

Emanuel said he would support reparations but with a cautionary note. “I think we have to be honest and frank with ourselves,” he said, adding that the city has serious budget problems to solve and that means tough choices about investing in areas of economic growth.

Watkins lashed out at Emanuel for talk about budget deficits when discussing reparations.

“When I hear Rahm Emanuel talk about a budget deficit when he talks about reparations to me that’s offensive,” she said to some cheers from the audience at a South Side museum.

“This country was built on our backs; the backs of our ancestors. They bled, they died, they came in chains, and they died in pain,” Watkins continued. “So don’t talk to me about budget deficits right now.”

On reparations, City Clerk Miguel del Valle said he believes in economic development and wants a federally-funded youth employment program, something he considers a reparation.

Candidate William Walls said reparations need to be money given to African-Americans. He dismissed the idea of educational reparations in part because some people are older and no longer go to school.

Economic issues were also a major theme.

“We have a budget deficit that also needs to be addressed, and that means making sure, though, as we make the tough decision, that we’re investing in the areas that are going to lead to economic growth,” Emanuel said.

“Too many of our neighborhoods are missing out on the action, and this has been going on for decades,” Chico said. “We’ve been driving by vacant lots; vacant stores. This has got to stop.”

Braun said in addressing the budget deficit, the action cannot be limited to cuts.

“We have to have growth. You can’t just cut your way to eliminate the deficit. You have to grow the economy, and that means in the neighborhoods,” she said.

Added Del Valle: “We are going to treat our neighborhoods the way we treat our downtown area – an opportunity to build those bridges between communities.”

Emanuel, who has led the other five candidates in the polls and in fundraising, was a frequent target of the criticism during the debate. The candidates are competing in the Feb. 22 election to replace the retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley. A candidate needs 50 percent of the vote plus one vote to win the election outright and avoid an April runoff.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • My thoughts

    give them nothing they been getting welfare since they been free…

    • rosgo

      Hey My Thoughts. Please learn how to write correctly. I bet your english language leaves something to be look at as well.

      Also, I’m AA and have never been on welfare. The way you sound your entire family must have been on welfare. Get and education before you make another as_ comment like the one you made here.

  • Citizen of Chicago

    They have been getting free housing and benefits for years and years it’s called the link and section 8. Juat another free entitlement for LAZY people who don’t want to do anything but cry where’s mine! Well I say go to school you get all the free schooling and college you want now and then GET A JOB!

  • j wordz

    You must be kidding me!?!??!!?! I see this propoganda proposing that ALL black people are lazy!?!!??! R u f’ing kidding me!?!?!?

  • 2nd Generation American

    If you give reparations to to the descendants of black slaves, you are then obligated to give reparations to the descendants of the Chinese who built the railway systems and blasted through the western US, the Irish and German who built up the northern cities by the sweat of their brows and the sinew of their backs, all the Jews who were turned away during WWII from coming to America and then perished at the hands of evil. I know plenty of African-American men & women who are NOT the descendants of slaves; how are you going to give reparations to people who have no idea what their background is? From whom they are descended? How do you prove you had a slave ancestor? Plenty of indentured servants deserve reparations too then–Irish, English, German, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish, etc. It was several hundred years ago. I didn’t own slaves. My family didn’t own slaves. Don’t use MY tax dollars to pay guilt money to people who don’t even bother to show up for free public education.

    • A Huggins

      I am an African-American worman and I totally agree with you.

      • Average Guy

        I see, you don’t know or care where you came from. You need to learn some history. Shame on you!

    • Average Guy

      No one asked about you or your damn family. And, before you make any commits you should know of what you are speaking of, whites were never slaves in this country. They were referred to as indentured servants, not slaves. As an indentured servant you had freedoms. Indentured servants could own property and after a period of time, typically three to seven years, they no longer owed a debt. Blacks never owed any debts because they were slaves. I should not have to educate you on what a slave is or, does. As far as reparations, where the hell are my forty acres and two mules. My great-great-great-great grandfather was born around Clarksville, Tennessee between 1812 or 1815. His son, my great-great-great grandfather Loveless, fathered a daughter who is the great-great-great grandmother too my children. She is buried at Burr Oak Cemetery. She was born in Tennessee also, in the year, 1862. She was born into slavery. My family was considered to be less than human. They were treated like objects and, beaten like animals. And, when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Loveless was reluctantly told that his family and he were free to go. Where? He had no idea. But he knew he was free to go where he wanted too. He never received anything. What sicken me, are people like you, second generation Americans who bring their hatred with them.

    • S2Gu

      Amen! @2nd Generation American…AMEN!!!

    • Thank You!

      GREAT POST!!!! I hope some of the others posting here will take your history lesson to heart!! Politicians pandering to get the minority vote, that’s ALL this is!!!

      • Average Guy

        Here’s a history lesson for you. Indentured Servants agreed to owe a debt. Slaves never agreed to anything. Indentured servant received housing, transportation and, in some cases even received a salary or, some type of payments.

  • ME2


    When does constant “where’s my handout” come to an end.

    Get over it. Move on with your lives and actually make a difference in your family’s lives and the community.

    There are NO MORE dollars available.

    • Budcat1

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.No cash payouts!!!

  • Tony

    Reparations? When was the last time we had slaves in this country? We’ve been giving reparations for decades. It’s called sitting at home waiting for the mailman in the morning and going out in the evening to shoot one of our own. OK give out reparations but cut off the the free stuff, to include subsidized housing.

    • Budcat1

      Excellent point.

  • Elizabeth Shobe Wojak

    I agree that all the citizens who were slaves should be given reparations. Why their ancestors believe they are entitled is beyond me. I worked for $1 an hour in a hot, smelly dry cleaners when I was in high school, believe me that was human slavery. They didn’t even feed me or house me. Come on people let’s get out of the 1800’s and move on.

  • LT

    Not withstanding that this is a ridiculous idea (my ancestors were slaves of the Ottoman Empire…Where is my money! hahahaha), why is this in discussion for Mayor of Chicago? The Mayor of Chicago has no bearing/power on this topic, no matter how UTTERLY ridiculous it is. Why don’t we give reparations to the American Indians and give all their land back? Why? Because we cannot change history, let’s just move on and not repeat it. None of us were directly involved with it so why punish those people? Should we jail the children of every murderer, drug dealer and rapist?
    Most of south chicago is a desolate economic wasteland…rise up, build up the community with businesses and SAVE money. There are Polish areas, Chinese areas, Indian/Pakistani areas, Irish areas…all with some degree of success. All came to America with nothing. African Americans are getting free rent with CHA, food stamps etc and still can’t get on the right foot? Something else is wrong, and it’s not money distribution. 80% of CHA sect 8 vouchers go to African Americans in Chicago. Isn’t that racism?

    • Jimmy L

      I agree with LT…….I am African American This whole Reparations Idea is just that an Idea I know of many african americans who grew up in the projects who worked hard and sacrificed everything to become doctors and educators and dentist…..If we ALL get rid of the welfare program and say hey all you able bodied people either you work or you starve. My Dad moved here from Sheffield Alabama 42 Years ago with 5 dollars in his pocket, No one every gave him anything he never Knew his father and his mom died when he was very young. He came here struggled found work started a family and is now enjoying his retirement. We don’t need reparations what we need is to stop killing each other and looking for the easy way out. There is no easy way to live this life. Get off your ass and work, but unfortunately as long as able bodied americans CHOOSE to stay on welfare we will continue to foot the bill, If any reparations are given every race and culture should get a slice of that pie not just one group!

      • Average Guy

        Jimmy L, I am sadden by your lack of knowledge. But, this is what I would expect from young African-Americans like you. So what your dad came from Alabama with five bucks. A lot of people came with nothing. Have you ever asked him why he left Alabama? Getting back to reparations, Ronald Reagan signed the legislation that was called long overdue where Japanese-Americans who were interned and their children received $1.6 billion from the U.S. Government. Their periods of internments lasted less than four years.

  • Philip J. Wayne

    Slavery was wrong, but reparations, 150 years later, no thank you. By this time the black community should be the contributors like everyone else. NO REPARATIONS…..Enough of these stupid debates…..most of us have made up our minds and are voting for Emmanuel. In a little more than a week, Bah Bye, Carol Mostly Fraud, Chico Marx and DA DA DA DA Del Valle, the new three stooges. Landslide for Emmanuel….Thank God.

  • How about me?

    Let’s see now… the Indians should get reparations, and not just $24 for Manhattan, the Chinese who had to die to build the railroads should get a piece of the action, and let’s not forget the Japanese who were interned to Montana. Oh yes, let’s raised more taxes to get this done.

    • keith

      $24 was too much for all New York

  • Arelem

    Why are the Mayoral candidates talking about reparations? It has nothing to do with city government, its a national issue and something concerning the Federal government.

    • Kman

      Americans are mostly morons that vote for emotional reasons, that is why our government stinks. The incompetent morons in office were put there by the incompetent morons in the voting booth.

  • Kman

    The first African slaves in North America were brought to the English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia by the Dutch in 1619. Any debt owed the descendents would be owed by the Dutch and English, not present day Americans.

  • bob

    I guess whoever was making a big deal about reparations at the debate is planning to raise taxes and will attempt to make it happen.

  • Mr. Justice

    Enough is enough! No reparations for anyone. What happened over 150 years ago was tragic, but we move on. The reason the State of Illinois is in a huge deficit is to those people who continue to not work, sit at home and have babies, and collect money from the state. I had a tenant who had 3 children with 2 different fathers and now she is pregnant with her fourth child by another man. Oh, and she isn’t even 27. She gets all kinda of aide from the county and state. No, enough is enough.

  • justforfacebook20101

    Enough is enough… Reparations are to give those, who have been harmed, financial settlement… It is NOT meant for 3rd, 4th and 5th generations to collect…

    • Average Guy

      You are wrong!

      • White Anti-racist

        Average guy +++ FTW

      • Average Guy

        @Above Average Guy:

        Wow! You can use some sensitivity train or, retraining and an education also. More whites received government hand outs then any race. The reason why whites are so angry is because they don’t like to share. As I stated before, I’m degreed, my children’s mother has an MA. We have two children with degrees, one with an MA and another child in college today. I served in the military, as did my father and his father before him and his father before him. Neither you nor anyone can ever refer to my family as not being hard working African-Americans today. Reparations now!

      • Above Average Guy

        @ average guy…………………..good to see you’re still not happy with the hand outs that I’m sure you’ve been getting!!! Where does it end with you people?? To all the educated, hard-working, honest blacks out there, I salute you. To idiots like this guy, go F yourselves!!!

      • Budcat1

        How about a one way ticket back to Africa,to live in poverty.Starvation and out of control AIDS is the way of life in Africa.You should feel fortunate to be an American.

      • Average Guy


        And, I’m sure you are happy being a racist.

  • T Pain

    The question simply demonstrates the ignorance of the Chicago Defender and NBC. Why not ask what they would do as mayor to slow the dramatic increase in rhino poaching in South Africa? Or how they feel about the impending marriage of Prince William? The job has pretty limited scope, and none of these issues fall within that scope.

  • Bob James

    I’m all for reparations as I’ve had my eye on a new pair of Jordans for some time. If the government wants to pay for them, that’s fine with me. I’m not sure why the Defender needed to even get into this, though. Chicago’s Mayor has as much sway to pay national reparations as he does to launch another manned moon mission. This is just an idiotic side issue to rile up the folks in attendance at that meeting (none of whom likely care about or understand any real issues facing the city).

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