There's a lot to learn from the names of schools

List of CPS closings tells a history of Chicago

Time for a Chicago history quiz.

1. Who was Ignance (also known as Ignacy) Paderewski?

a. A Polish pianist

b. The second prime minister of the Republic of Poland

c. The namesake of a school on the list of 54 Chicago public schools set to be closed

 

2. Who was Lyman Trumbull?

a. A former U.S. senator from Illinois

b. Co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery

c. The namesake of a school on the list of 54 Chicago public schools set to be closed

3. Who was Arna Wendell Bontemps?

a. An American poet, librarian and luminary in the Harlem Renaissance

b. Author of "Story of the Negro," a children's book that won a 1949 Newberry Award

c. The namesake of a school on the list of 54 Chicago public schools set to be closed

If you answered "all of the above" to all of the above questions, you're smarter than I am.

Reading the list of schools on Chicago's chopping block is like taking a tour through the city's past, witnessing vanished heroes in neighborhoods whose ethnic identities have, in many cases, long since changed.

Unfortunately, it can be like taking the tour without a guidebook.

Manierre, Stockton. Banneker. Pope. Marconi.

Who were these people so worthy that their names were put on schools?

School names tend to be like street names. They're words you see or hear so often you don't really see or hear them, their origins obscured by time.

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