CHICAGO — Four years after a Village Leadership Academy class assignment aimed to rename Douglass Park after Frederick Douglass, the name change is official.
Many of these students spent this past Presidents’ Day at Douglass Park advocating for its name change. Now, they can see it become official.
The West Side park was named after former U.S. Senator from Illinois Stephen Douglas, who had inherited a plantation with more than 100 enslaved Black people in Mississippi.
Politically, Douglas believed each territory should determine whether to permit slavery within its borders.
“I feel amazing. It should have happened a long time ago,” Former Village Leadership Academy teacher Bianca Jones said.
The park was originally named for Stephen Douglas upon its’ opening in 1869, just eight years after Douglas’ death.
“We thought it would have been a slam dunk for the park district to add an ‘s’, but at this point I appreciate my students having put in the work to have this moment,” Jones said.
Each student in the class received an award for the accomplishment, many who say this is just the beginning of their activism.