Students Hold 'Teach-In' To Try And Change Name Of Douglas Park

Steve Miller
February 17, 2020 - 4:36 pm
For three years now, a West Loop elementary school has been trying to change the name of a park in the North Lawndale neighborhood. And on Monday, they had what they called a "teach-in" at the park.

WBBM Newsradio/Steve Miller

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- For three years now, a West Loop elementary school has been trying to change the name of a park in the North Lawndale neighborhood. And on Monday, they had what they called a "teach-in" at the park.

It's Douglas Park, named for Stephen Douglas, the Illinois politician who debated Abraham Lincoln.

Students at a private school, Village Leadership Academy, have been trying to change the name of the park to Douglass Park with two s's - named for abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

"The park being named for Stephen Douglas the slaveholder is kind of like a slap in the face," said 12-year-old Zahir Mbengue.

12-year-old Zahir Mbengue
WBBM Newsradio/Steve Miller

Zahir is one of the student leaders of the move to change the name.

"Basically (it's) saying the civil rights movement didn't happen," he said.

For three years now, a West Loop elementary school has been trying to change the name of a park in the North Lawndale neighborhood. And on Monday, they had what they called a "teach-in" at the park.
WBBM Newsradio/Steve Miller

WBBM Newsradio asked the Chicago Park District several days ago about the status of the name change and they told us they hadn't received a formal request for the change.

"We actually spoke in front of the board and we submitted our proposal to change the name," said Jennifer Paganb, a teacher at the school.

"So the fact that they're saying that is not true.  It's a lie."

Douglass Park sign
WBBM Newsradio/Steve Miller

Douglass Park sign
WBBM Newsradio/Steve Miller

Many of the signs have already been changed, without park district approval, to Douglass with two s's.

At the "teach-in" in the Douglas Park field house, students gave a short presentation outlining the steps they've taken to try to get support for the name change.