Chicago pastor calls for renaming of sites dedicated to former presidents who owned slaves

A pastor in Chicago is calling on the Emanuel administration to rename sites dedicated to two former U.S. presidents who owned slaves, as he said these people should not be honored in the black communities.

(REUTERS / Peter Morgan / Files)The New York Stock Exchange (C) as seen from the steps of Federal Hall near a statue of George Washington, on February 21, 2001.

Bishop James Dukes of the Liberation Christian Center said he wants the Washington Park to be renamed. He also wants to have the bronze statue of George Washington removed from the corner of 51st and King Drive, CBS Local detailed.

"I am feeling ambivalent that I would have to walk my child, attend a parade or enjoy a game of softball in a park that commemorates the memory of a slave owner," Bishop Dukes said in his letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Therefore, I call on the immediate removal of President George Washington and President Andrew Jackson names from the parks located on the southeast side of Chicago. They should not have the distinct honor of being held as heroes when they actively participated in the slave trade."

Aside from that, Bishop Dukes wants President Andrew Jackson's name removed from the Jackson Park because, like Washington, he was a slave owner. He said sites named after Washington and Jackson are not appropriate in black neighborhoods.

In a press briefing after the violent Charlottesville protest which resulted in the death of one person, U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the motive behind the call to have Robert E. Lee's statue removed. He then asked if Stonewall Jackson or George Washington will be next, noting later that the two former presidents had owned slaves, The Independent reported.

While Trump drew bipartisan backlash over his remarks on the Charlottesville protests, former KKK leader David Duke praised him for his "honesty and courage." Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer also posted a Twitter statement emphasizing the president's refusal to take sides on the issue.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman from the Chicago Park District explained that anyone can file a request for renaming parks. The request may be voted upon by the Park District Board after clearing a 45-day public comment period.