Woodrow Wilson HS in the Nation’s Capital is set to undergo a name change, due to the growing discomfort over the former president’s history of racism. Easily the worst part of Wilson’s record as president was his overseeing of the resegregation of multiple agencies of the federal government, which had been integrated as a result of Reconstruction decades earlier.
There are currently seven names under consideration according to the website created to solicit feedback.
A group of DCPS and school/community stakeholders have selected a list of seven finalists:
Edna B. Jackson
Vincent E. Reed
Vote by 12/11!
— Wilson High School (@Wilsonhsdcps) November 20, 2020
An email announcing the seven potential names was sent to members of the Wilson committee by the (DCPS) District Of Columbia Public School Office Of Communications and Engagement.
Right now it’s unclear if any of these names will be selected, but a post on the school’s official website says that after folks have had an opportunity to react to the nominations, “Chancellor Ferebee and DC Mayor Bowser would then review the feedback and decide on a final school name and propose it to the DC Council”.
The site explains how the options were generated:
In October a nomination form was released to suggest new school names and it received over 2,000 responses. From that list, a group of DCPS and school stakeholders narrowed the names down to these seven finalists for public input.
The seven finalists are:
August Wilson – The renowned African American playwright has been mentioned often as a candidate, in part because his name would make replacing team uniforms and other signage unnecessary. Meaning they’d be able to save some money.
Hilda Mason – A 22-year member of the DC Council, who was a valiant early proponent of DC statehood.
Marion Barry – The polarizing former DC Mayor would be a controversial pick. Was called the DC “Mayor For Life”
Edna B Jackson – She was the first black teacher at Wilson and also taught at Cardozo HS.
Vincent E Reed – Wilson’s first Black Principal, he later served as superintendent of the entire DCPS school system.
William Syphax – Was a 19th-century educator who was the first president of the board of trustees of Colored Schools of Washington and Georgetown.
Northwest – This name represents that particular quadrant of the city where the school sits. But this would be odd with other public high schools located in NW Washington DC as well.
The attack on racism, prejudice and social injustice has forced certain institutions to change the names of schools and public buildings that celebrated racists for years.
This also happened in Prince William County VA about 30 minutes outside of Washington DC with Stonewall Jackson HS having its name changed. Jackson was a confederate general who owned slaves. In 2017 the (PWCS) Prince William County School Board heavily considered changing the school’s name as part of a shift away from naming schools after Confederate leaders.
In 2020 the PWCS Superintendent released a letter saying, “We can no longer represent the Confederacy in our schools.”
On June 29, 2020, the school board voted to change the school’s name to “Unity Reed High School.” This in honor of former school security assistant Arthur Reed.