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Signs come down at former Douglas Park in North Lawndale

The Chicago Park District Board voted Wednesday to officially remove the name of Stephen Douglas from the park.

A worker for the Chicago Park District removes the sign at the park on West Ogden Avenue and South Albany Avenue Thursday morning, Sept. 10, 2020. The park used to be named Douglas Park after former slave owner Stephen Douglas. The Chicago Park District decided Wednesday to rename the park. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
A worker for the Chicago Park District removes the sign at the park on West Ogden Avenue and South Albany Avenue Thursday morning. The park used to be named Douglas Park after former slave owner Stephen Douglas. The Chicago Park District decided Wednesday to rename the park. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago Park District staff began removing signs bearing the name “Douglas Park” Thursday morning.

The Park District Board voted Wednesday to officially remove the former namesake of the North Lawndale park, 1401 S. Sacramento Drive. Commissioners opened a 45-day public comment period to solicit ideas for renaming the park.

A campaign to rename the park after Frederick Douglass and his wife Anna Murray-Douglass has been in the works for years. Frederick Douglass, a former slave and abolitionist, escaped in large part because of the support of his first wife Anna Murray-Douglass.

The park district plans to have the old signs removed by next week. The former namesake Stephen Douglas was a U.S. senator from Illinois and a slave owner who lost to Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election.

The board voted in July to begin the process of removing Stephen Douglas’ name from the park, which was named after him in 1869.

Of 138 comments the park district received, development director Heather Gleeson said 136 favored removing Stephen Douglas’ name.

Students from Village Leadership Academy, 800 S. Wells St., have spend hours canvassing, gathering petition signatures and attending board meetings since launching a campaign for the name change in 2016.