Rep. Buckner calls for removal of Stephen A. Douglas statue on South Side

Rep. Kam Buckner is calling for the removal of the Sen. Stephen A. Douglas statue, which is located on 35th Street. Douglas once owned the land where the statue stands and is now burried there.

That land is now in Buckner's District.

“I don't see any situation, any other situation, where we would allow a person who was an oppressor to a certain group of people to look down on the neighborhood in which they live,” said Buckner.

Atop a 90-foot tall granite memorial, sits a nine-foot tall statue of Douglas. His main claim to fame these days is that he and Abraham Lincoln debated seven separate times in 1858 during a U.S. Senate campaign.

Douglas won that contest, but Lincoln was elected president just two years later.

Buckner sent a letter to Gov. Pritzker asking for the statue to be taken down. He noted that Douglas benefitted from his wife's ownership of slaves in Mississippi, quoting him, “I hold that the negro never ought to be a citizen....I hold that this government was for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever..."    

“Douglas does have his place in history. He will always have his place in history. But I think it's high time for us to move forward as a community and not have that statue there. Leave the tomb and the body. And go from there,” said Buckner.

Douglas was a key northern supporter of some so-called "compromises" that infuriated Lincoln and millions of others because they threatened to expand slavery into the West.

Once the Confederate south launched the Civil War, however, Douglas strongly supported Lincoln and the Union.