Some citizens of the Latino community in the Chicago suburb of Waukegan are protesting against the school authorities who want to rename a school named after Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama.
The Waukegan School Board held a meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the matter, and there were many residents who expressed displeasure at the idea of naming the school after Obama.
The school board wants to rename the school, which bears the name of the Declaration of Independence author and our third president, because he owned slaves.
But because of Obama’s record of illegal immigrants being deported, Latinos in Waukegan protested the option.
Waukegan’s Latino community slams middle school renaming to Obama https://t.co/FbVNxYNSqI
– WGN Morning News (@WGNMorningNews) March 30, 2021
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The problem with naming a school after the Obamas
The latest census data shows that approximately 78% of the student population at Waukegan Public Schools is Hispanic or Latino. Around 55% of Waukegan’s residents are Hispanic or Latino of any race, and around 30% of the city’s residents were born abroad.
Julie Contreras, a local activist who attended the protest, said:
“We feel that Barack Obama has spoiled us. He refused us. And he didn’t stop the deportations the way he promised us. If you remove the name of Thomas Jefferson who was an oppressor, then the name of Obama is just another oppressor. And our families don’t want to see that name. “
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Contreras works with a group called United Giving Hope, a group that runs shelters for immigrant children on the southern border.
School board member Edgar Castellanos, who came to the United States as a child without papers, also spoke out against naming one of the schools after the Obamas. “I will not be involved in renaming a school after someone who does not and does not represent the undocumented community.”
Waukegan Public Schools will rename Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Daniel Webster Middle School next month after concerns about their namesakes’ links to slavery, particularly after the death of George Floyd. Https://t.co/Vlrvwn7RBk
– ABC 7 Chicago (@ ABC7Chicago) March 25, 2021
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Obama’s “Deporter-in-Chief” Legacy Riles Latino Community
A CNN report said that during his presidency, Obama became known as the “chief deporter” among immigration stakeholders.
This is a title he may well deserve. According to the Cato Institute, Bill Clinton deported 108,706 per year, George W. Bush 251,567, Barack Obama 383,307 and at the time of this report’s publication Donald Trump had been in office for two years and had deported 275,725.
School board president Brandon Ewing, an African American, said the idea for a name change came up last year after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He added, “I personally have no objection to the name, but I need to be aware of my concerns.”
Oscar Arias, a native of the Waukegan and a graduate of the school district, suggested civil rights icon John Lewis.
“As a famous congressman and civil rights activist who marched alongside Dr. King, John Lewis is a much better representation for the community and truly embodies the progressive and multicultural spirit of Waukegan.”
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What happens next?
In addition to the John Lewis Middle School, there are two other naming options available to the community: the Delores Huerta Middle School and the Cesar Chavez Middle School.
Other options include Edith Smith, who fought for desegregation in Waukegan schools, NASA mathematician Kathrine Johnson, and the first Spanish woman in space, Ellen Ochoa.
The board of directors will officially decide on April 13th whether the names should be changed or not.
Progressives and their circular firing squads lolhttps: //t.co/AL3IKAqFhu
– CityRemoved (@CityRemoved) April 1, 2021
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