No Parks Named After Slaveholders!

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Douglas Park, a large Chicago Park located in North Lawndale, serves as a cultural and community center on the West Side. It is currently named after former IL Senator Stephen A. Douglas who believed in “popular sovereignty” -- the idea that voters should decide whether slavery should exist in their territory. He also owned a 3,000 acre plantation with 123 enslaved Black people in Lawrence Co. Mississippi.

Because North Lawndale is a predominantly Black neighborhood, we believe that a neighborhood park named after a historical figure who not only supported, but also actively participated in the enslavement of Black people is an insult to the community.

We, the 5th grade class of Village Leadership Academy, believe the park should be renamed in honor of Frederick Douglass, a self-taught intellectual, activist, abolitionist, feminist, author, and orator who played an instrumental role in the anti-slavery movement.

We’re passionate about making this change because we believe that people deserve to feel positively affirmed in their communities. Children should play in parks named after people who can be role models, those who inspire them to be their best selves, or even to change the world! 

We stand at a contemporary yet historical crossroad where we have the unique opportunity to help remedy injustice. In light of recent events in New Orleans and Baltimore, where Confederate monuments were removed, we want to continue in the spirit of removing remnants of our country’s racist past. Let’s remove Stephen Douglas, and instead, honor the legacy of a man who fought for the liberation of all people.

Tell the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners to recognize those who were on the right side of history. It’s an easy change to make! All they need to do is ADD AN ‘S’!

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