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DuSable, Stroger deserve city’s honor

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Chicago Defender

John H. Stroger, Jr., who died January 18 at the age of 78, already has his name affixed to pieces of Chicago. That is as it should be since during his 55 years in Chicago, he rolled up his sleeves and became a stalwart in the drive to increase Black involvement in the politics and economics of this city.

His years of public service resulted in a number of momentous accomplishments, including becoming the first African American elected president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. He was also the first Black to head the Board of the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

Stroger fought tirelessly to get a new Cook County hospital, and his efforts not only got the hospital built, it also resulted in it carrying his name–The John H. Stroger Jr. County Hospital. But while his efforts in trying to make sure the citizens of Cook County had access to quality health care are dutifully chronicled, his efforts in trying to ensure an enhanced quality of life in our community are not always recognized.

That is why the Chicago Defender is happy to get wind of plans to rename Avalon Park in his honor. The 28-acre park, formerly Pierce's Park, is named for the community which, over the years, has become a strong Black neighborhood. Stroger's first political position was as Democratic committeeman in the 8th Ward, where the park is located.

Honoring Stroger in this way would bear witness to his leadership on the Forest Preserve District and also his support of initiatives to help young people in the city and county. The Chicago Defender wholeheartedly supports the renaming of Avalon Park to John H. Stroger Jr. Park.

It is a fitting honor for a man who worked his entire adult life for the betterment of city and county residents. Oh, and while we're at it, it is long past time for a statue to be erected in a prominent place in this city, to honor the founder of the city, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable. It remains an affront to the memory of the Haitian-born trapper and explorer that this great city has not found time to accord him such an honor.

There is no dispute that he is the founder of the city. There are no others who lay claim to that title. It is a cut and dry statement, yet, with all the public artwork that adorns this city, with all of the monuments that sprout up like wildflowers, it is left to the world-famous DuSable museum to proudly carry that name. We should honor hour history, and our history makers, with more reverence.

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