The 21st Show

Stephen Douglas, Slavery And Statues

Stephen Douglas statue in Springfield, Illinois.

Stephen Douglas statue in Springfield, Illinois. Katherine Johnson

Last week, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan announced that he would like the portrait of Douglas, and statues, in the Illinois capitol to come down. At Eastern Illinois University, a former professor is calling on the school to rename a residence hall known as Douglas Hall. At the University of Chicago, the university has removed a plaque depicting Douglas. University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer wrote, “Douglas does not deserve to be honored on our campus” because he “profited from his wife’s ownership of a Mississippi plantation where Black people were enslaved.” 

The 21st spoke to a professor from Auburn University and a Ph.D. student from the University of Chicago about understanding how some elite universities have profited off of slavery and whether the removal of Douglas' plaque provided any kind of reparation.


Guy Emerson Mount, Assistant Professor at Auburn University Department of History

Caine Jordan, a Ph.D. student in the Department of History at the University of Chicago


Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

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