The school was formerly named after a known racist.
A North Side Chicago elementary school has been renamed in honor of Harriet Tubman, ABC News reports.
Last year a group of Chicago parents advocated for a name change for Louis Agassiz Elementary, a school on the city’s North Side named after Swiss American biologist Louis Agassiz. The biologist worked at Harvard in the 1800s and was a promulgator of scientific racism, setting out to prove that Black people were inferior to other races. In 2020, an article in the Chicago Sun-Times was published, reporting that 30 of Chicago’s schools were named after slaveholders or other known racists. Two decades prior, a Cambridge, Massachusetts school named for Agassiz stripped his name, renaming their school in honor of Maria L. Baldwin, the school’s first Black principal.
Now Chicago is following suit, the elementary school officially unveiling its new sign, renaming the school in honor of abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Chicago Public School (CPS) officials say they are open to allowing other schools to change their names as well, the Board of Education scheduled to vote on an updated policy for school name changes in the coming weeks.
“The CPS Office of Equity is committed to 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, faculty and support staff,” said CPS.
The new Harriet Tubman Elementary School joins a long list of edifices formerly named after white supremacists that are now choosing to honor the pioneering freedom fighter. In 2018, a former Confederate site was rededicated in Tubman’s honor. In June 2021, Newark, New Jersey announced that a new Tubman monument would replace a former statue of Christopher Columbus, the monument set to debut in the summer of 2022. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka called it “poetic.”
One Tubman Elementary School student, Brooklyn Rodgers, spoke to ABC 7 Chicago about how they felt about the renaming, saying, “Having her as a new name of our school shows that our school is a place for good people to thrive and develop.”
May the Tubman flowers keep rolling in.
Photo Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago