CPS School, Agassiz Elementary may get a new name. The school is named after Louis Agassiz. Louis Agassiz was a Swiss-born geologist, physician, and biologist. He studied enslaved Africans in the places of their suffering and taught that they were innately and eternally inferior. Agassiz supported racial segregation, ethnic cleansing, and measures to prevent the birth of interracial children. The three names up for consideration are NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks, and Underground Railroad abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
CPS is considering renaming schools that bear the names of slave owners and segregationists. At least 30 CPS schools are named after slaveowners.
While the name change doesn’t erase Agassiz’s history, the LSC Parent rep says it is a start to address inequities. “If we were OK to leave that name on the building, how am I as a Black parent or my child as a Black child supposed to feel that my race or my worth would not detrimentally come into play?- LSC rep, Tina Holder King
CPS’ top official for racial equity, Maurice Swinney, said name changes can’t be a one-time fix. Educational justice must follow.
“Even though you might have looked at Agassiz and think, ‘He’s racist, and we know he’s racist,’ we may also still be perpetuating it in our daily interactions, and that is what I’m seeking to disrupt,” Swinney said. “If we want to transform outcomes of young people, we have to focus on the student experience in schools,” said Maurice Swinney.
Contributor Tammy Gibson is a travel historian, author, and writer. Find her at www.sankofatravelher.com, Facebook, Instagram @SankofaTravelher, and Twitter @SankofaTravelH