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CHICAGO (AP) — Officials with Chicago Public Schools have changed the name of only one of 30 schools named for slaveholders, a year after a top district official acknowledged the issue as “dehumanizing,” according to a newspaper report.
The Chicago Sun-Times conducted an analysis last year showing that of 652 public schools, 30 were named for those who owned or traded enslaved Black or Indigenous people. The schools are in different parts of the city and include campuses that have a majority of Black students. So far, on school, Andrew Jackson Language Academy on the city’s near West Side has removed the name of the seventh president, who enslaved people. The school was renamed Chicago World Language Academy in May.
The newspaper presented its findings last year to Maurice Swinney, who was named the district’s first equity officer in October 2018. Swinney said he was unaware of the number of school names linked to slaver owners, called it “dehumanizing” and said the names must be changed. He has declined recent interview requests with the newspaper.
A district spokeswoman attributed the name change delays to the coronavirus pandemic.
District officials “are still working on the policy that will go before the board and public comment, and so we don’t have a lot to share right now,” CPS spokeswoman Mary Fergus told the newspaper. “It hasn’t been because it hasn’t been important, but, with COVID and reopening schools and everything, that did take the priority.”