CHICAGO – A local pastor and activist is calling on Mayor Emanuel to change the names of two Chicago parks, saying it’s time to stop honoring slave owners.
Bishop James Dukes sent a letter to Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Park District on Monday asking the City of Chicago to rename Washington and Jackson Parks which commemorate former presidents George Washington and Andrew Jackson, key historical figures and known slave owners.
“When my children and grandchildren walk through these parks and say, ‘Grandfather, wasn’t he a slave owner?,’ how do I explain that and how do I reconcile that with their views of what heroes are?” said Dukes.
“I’m not trying to eradicate history,” said Dukes. “Let’s put history where it belongs so it can be explained and taught properly.”
Dukes shared the letter he wrote to Mayor Emanuel on Facebook:
Dukes wrote the letter before President Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, but says it’s perfect timing.
“I think this is a great opportunity for us to come together and heal, said Dukes.” “It should create a great dialogue and conversation about race in a city that has so many different nationalities to come together and be respectful of each other’s history.”
On Tuesday, President Trump noted that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave-owners. On the topic of removing the statute of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the president said, “I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?”
Mayor Emanuel has not responded yet, but Dukes says he is meeting with a city official soon to discuss the process for changing the names.