Column: Agassiz students will help find a new name for Lakeview school currently named for racist scientist

After an impassioned and occasionally contentious two-hour meeting, Agassiz Elementary School’s Local School Council voted 7-4 Wednesday to move ahead with a proposal that could remove the name of a racist scientist from the building — but not before winter.

Agassiz Principal Mira Weber outlined a process whereby students and community members will work together to come up with a new name for the Lakeview school, which is currently named after Louis J. Agassiz, a Swiss biologist whose long-discredited teachings about race were repeatedly used to denigrate Black people and justify slavery.

Democratic state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz attended Wednesday’s meeting.

“I think we’re in a special moment in time where our entire city and our entire country is sort of re-evaluating and looking at how we remember, honor and want to remember history through a very critical and new lens,” Feigenholtz said. “This is happening in so many places around our state and our city, and for it to happen in a school nearby — I live a stone’s throw away from Agassiz — is really great. I stand in full support of this.”

Feigenholtz said she commissioned a pro bono artist to redesign the school’s signs, banners and artwork once a new name is chosen, and she is working with elected officials to cover the cost of implementing the new name.

“I want to take all those costs away from the school,” she said.


To read the full article in the Chicago Tribune, click here.