A New Jersey school district has restarted plans to rename Woodrow Wilson High School because of what critics call his legacy of racism.
The Camden school district voted on the measure in 2019 but paused the process during the pandemic, NJ.com reported.
A renaming committee of over 100 members — including parents, local activists, and school administrators — had begun considering contenders including the late civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis and former President Barack Obama, along with more neutral choices like East High School and Camden East High School.
“We are proud that our schools represent places of diversity and inclusion, and we plan to increase our efforts to reshape the identity of this venerable and cherished school,” the school district said in a statement to the news outlet.
“We plan to collaboratively work with current Wilson students, parents, alumni, and community leaders on an inclusive process to rename the school.”
Wilson, a Democrat born and raised in Virginia, was president of the United States from 1913 to 1921, governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913, and former president of Princeton University.
The news outlet noted he was the first southerner to be elected president since 1848, and was both praised and criticized during his tenure in the White House — vilified for segregating parts of the government and lauded for launching the Federal Reserve Bank system and helping the Allied powers win World War I.
Princeton removed his name from its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College last year.
“Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time. He segregated the federal civil service after it had been racially integrated for decades, thereby taking America backward in its pursuit of justice,” university President Christopher Eisgruber wrote.
“He not only acquiesced in but added to the persistent practice of racism in this country, a practice that continues to do harm today.”
Last June, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he’d no longer use Wilson’s desk at his office in Trenton, CNN reported at the time.
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