A suburban Chicago park district voted to rename the park that a group of residents said honors a man who more than 60 years ago actively prevented plans to integrate the community.
"Tonight we took another step forward in our march towards a more welcoming and anti-racist community in Deerfield," the Rename Mitchell Park group wrote Thursday on Facebook.
The land that Mitchell Park sits on in Deerfield was supposed to be a housing development several decades ago with 20 percent of the homes set aside for African Americans.
But when the community found out about it in 1959, "this groundswell happened of people afraid of letting African Americans into our white community," said former Deerfield resident Gale Gand.
"In a 1959 referendum, Deerfield residents voted overwhelmingly to prevent an integrated housing development in Deerfield from being completed," the Rename Mitchell Park group wrote on Facebook, "by condemning the property and using it instead for the park and pool we know today as Mitchell Pool and Mitchell Park."
On Thursday, Deerfield's park district said it would create an advisory board to use input from residents, local leaders and activists to recommend a new name for the park.
“Mitchell Park was Deerfield’s confederate statue that memorialized something from the past," former resident Amy Roost told NBC 5 earlier this week. "That is not something we should feel proud about."
Rayan Falouji and several others who started the Facebook page calling for the renaming of Mitchell Park said they don't want to personally disrespect James Mitchell or his family.
"Mr. Mitchell’s name is simply a symbol that honors a misguided part of Deerfield’s history, on a property that was intended to be integrated housing," the group wrote. "It is that segregationist history that we do not believe should be honored."