Chicago school renamed in honor of civil rights activist Tubman
A Chicago elementary school has unveiled a new sign telling people it is leaving behind the name of a racist and will instead honor a woman known for helping black people escape slavery, Harriet Tubman.
The sign comes about a year after a group of parents successfully lobbied for the school – long named after Swiss American biologist Louis Agassiz – to change its name to Harriet Tubman Elementary School.
Chicago Public Schools officials are letting other schools in the city change their names after the Chicago Sun-Times reported in late 2020 that 30 of its schools were named after slave owners and others were named after racists like Agassiz.
The Board of Education could vote on an updated policy for school name changes next week, the Sun-Times reported.
CPS said in a statement that the new name is “more inclusive and representative” of the district’s values.
“The CPS Office of Equity has engaged in a comprehensive review process to consider new school names when a school is named after individuals who do not represent the values of our students, families, teachers and support staff,” the CPS said.
Agassiz, was a biologist at Harvard in the 1800s and a proponent of scientific racism who sought to prove that black people were inferior to other races. Two decades ago, a school board in Cambridge, Massachusetts, voted to strip its name from a school there and rename it for Maria L. Baldwin, who years earlier was the school’s first black headmistress. ‘school.
Harriet Tubman Elementary School on Chicago’s North Side joins a long list of schools across the country named after the former slave who helped black people escape slavery in the South via the railroad underground in the 1800s.