Waukegan activists protest naming middle school after Obamas

There’s controversy brewing in Waukegan over changing the name of one of its schools.

Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Waukegan could soon have a new name, but it's coming with some push back from some members of the community.

Concerns were raised by the community about the school name with some saying its historic namesake has ties to slavery.

Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 Board of Education is in the process of possibly selecting a new name.


One of the finalists is Barack and Michelle Obama Middle School. But this has spurred a new controversy.

Members of the Latino community say the Obama administration removed and deported millions of people in hostile raids across the country and that the school board should be conscious about what type of message they want to send to immigrant families in the community.

They will gather at Waukegan High School at 5:30 p.m. ahead of the school board meeting at 7 p.m. 

Waukegan school board president Brandon Ewing is open to hearing their opinions.

"I think we should take into consideration all parties as it related to the name changing, right. I don't want to have to do this in another 10 years from now because there's a different group who feels differently," Ewing said.

"The former president Barack Obama is the deporter in chief. And in the school district of Waukegan, there is an almost 80 percentile of Latinx children here in our school district," advocate Julie Contreras said.

Another school in the district, Daniel Webster Middle School is also in the process of possibly being renamed.

The school board will decide whether to select one of the new names for both schools on April 13 at 7 p.m.