Former President Barack Obama made his political bones in Chicago and there are plans to rename a public middle school after him but immigration activists are objecting.
“I will not be part of renaming a school after someone who did not and does not represent the undocumented community,” said Chicago District 60 school board member Edgar Castellanos, who came to the U.S. as an undocumented child, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
The Board of Education of Waukegan, a city about 35 miles north of downtown Chicago, recently debated renaming Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Daniel Webster Middle School because the historical figures for whom they were named either owned slaves or supported slavery, Fox News reported.
Jefferson owned more than 600 people during his life through the natural increase of enslaved people. He inherited 175 enslaved people from his father, according to The Jefferson Monticello organization.
Webster was a former senator who later served as the U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore. He “urged northerners to respect slavery in the South and to assist in the return of fugitive slaves to their owners,” according to his U.S. Senate bio.
There’s a call to rename Thomas Jefferson Middle School for America’s first Black president, Obama, and former First Lady Michelle. But immigration activists and some in the Latino community are opposing the name change.
“From the time Barack Obama became President until 2017 when he left, he today is still the highest-ranking president with deportations in our nation,” said Julie Contreras, who runs shelters for immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border. “We feel that Barack Obama did disservice to us. He denied us, and he didn’t stop the deportations, the way he promised. If you’re removing the name of Thomas Jefferson, one oppressor, the name of Obama is another oppressor, and our families do not want to see that name.”
There was some pushback on Twitter against the immigration activists and the criticism that he didn’t represent the undocumented. Here are some of the responses:
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