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What is a petition?

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Why did the students at Village Leadership Academy think the park should be named after Frederick Douglass?

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 The students at Village Leadership Academy refused to give up. How did their hard work pay off?

Chicago changes park name to honor Frederick Douglass



The students at Village Leadership Academy in Chicago began a petition in 2017 to change the name of Chicago’s Douglas Park.


What is a petition? It is a document signed by many people asking a government or other official group to make a change.

Douglas Park was named after Stephen Douglas, a U.S. Senator from the 1800s. He is famous for his debates against Abraham Lincoln. Douglas believed that each state should decide on its own if slavery should be allowed.


He also owned a plantation that used more than 100 enslaved people as workers.

Because of Douglas’s attitudes toward slavery, the students at the Village Leadership Academy believe the park should change its name.


The students thought the park should be renamed “Douglass Park” after Frederick Douglass. Douglass was a famous anti-slavery activist in the 1800s.


The new name would also honor Douglass’s wife, Anna, who was also an important voice in the anti-slavery movement.


The students worked hard for three years to get this change made. They refused to give up. In July, Chicago’s Park District Board voted to move ahead with the plan to rename the park.

Text adapted with permission from NewsCurrents (©2020, Knowledge Unlimited, Inc. All rights reserved)

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