A Renewed Push To Get An Answer from the Chicago Park District
A group of almost a dozen supporters from the community attended the Park District Board meeting on January 24. Kevin McGurn and Nicole Kowrach addressed the commissioners during the public comment period, and were assured that the board wants to take up the matter on its agenda as soon as possible.
On February 1, we met with several members of the Park District Staff to discuss what will be needed to move forward with the proposal. They informed us that they have been in contact with one member of the Paschen family who opposes the proposal. At that meeting, we pressed them to also reach out to the several Paschen family members who have expressed support for naming the park for the Pollard Family.
On February 11, the Chicago Tribune ran a Vintage Chicago Tribune article on the Pollard family. Thank you Ron Grossman for all your stories of Chicago’s past, and especially this one. Other media articles include Block Club Chicago and WLS-TV.
Once again, a group of community members attended the February 14 Park District Board of Commissioners meeting to push for action. After Dona Vitale spoke in the public comment period, the group met briefly with staff to again press them to reach out to more Paschen family members. In a subsequent telephone call, we were informed that they have done so, and will continue discussions with the family.
We will be attending the next meeting of the Board of Commissioners on March 13, 11:30 a.m. at Park District Headquarters, 4830 South Western Avenue. All are welcome to join us.
On November 4, 2021, RPWRHS submitted a proposal to the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners to rename the park at 1932 West Lunt to honor the John and Amanda Pollard family. The Pollards were the first African-American residents of the Village of Rogers Park, who came to the community about 1886 from Missouri, where newly-enacted Jim Crow laws limited opportunities for their family after the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The family owned the home at 1928 West Lunt, next to the park, for close to 70 years, and three generations of Pollards were part of our community until 1977. The eight Pollard children went on to overcome prejudice and other obstacles to achieve success in a range of endeavors: nursing, early film-making, professional sports, journalism, business, civil rights activism and the arts, and we believe their lives can be an inspiration to the hundreds of children who use the park each year. One aspect of our proposal is to work with the Park District to create an exhibition about the Pollards for the park fieldhouse to educate community members about their full range of accomplishments.
The park is now named for Christian Paschen, a businessman, appointed city official and local politician in the 1920s, who has a checkered record at best. While serving as Chicago’s Building Commissioner appointed by Mayor William Hale Thompson, he was indicted for income tax evasion in 1931 and convicted in 1932. We believe removing his name from the the park and renaming it for the Pollard Family would appropriately reflect the values of integrity, inclusion, acceptance and diversity so widely held in our community today.
We have been patiently waiting for consideration of our proposal, recognizing that the Board of Commissioners have faced a long string of serious challenges since our proposal was submitted. But after two years, we are tired of waiting. 2024 is time for a yes-or-no decision. Our community deserves a response and we are not giving up until we get a hearing and a vote. We will keep up pressure on the board until the matter is resolved.
Sign our new online petition demanding action on the proposal by clicking on the button below.