Chicago park renamed for abolitionist Frederick Douglass

Updated 11/19/2020 7:56 PM

CHICAGO -- A sprawling park on Chicago's West Side will now bear the name of 19th century abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray-Douglass and not that of a former Illinois senator and slaveowner.

Chicago Park District commissioners voted Wednesday to officially rename the 173-acre park created in 1869 and named for Stephen Douglas after years of efforts by a group of high school students. The teenagers had gone as far as to paint an extra ``S'' on signs in the park that carried its original name, ``Douglas Park.'


Stephen Douglas lost the presidential election to Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and died a year later.

Students at Village Leadership Academy began pushing for the name change in 2016. Their original choice was to honor Rekia Boyd, who was shot and killed near the park in 2012 by an off-duty police officer who was later acquitted of involuntary manslaughter. Their choice was rejected by officials for lacking historical significance. The students settled on Frederick Douglass and his wife, who helped him escape slavery.

The vote to rename the park came after 45 days of public comments following park district commissioners' July decision to remove Stephen Douglas' name.

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