Resolution Regarding Renaming Woodrow Wilson High School

Whereas, Woodrow Wilson High School is the largest and most diverse high school in the DCPS system; and

Whereas, public schools are a vital institution for transmitting the civic principles upon which our city stands, including basic respect for all our students and teachers, and should be exemplars of the personal and ethical qualities the community hopes to cultivate in every generation. Naming a D.C. public high school after Woodrow Wilson is not consistent with the mission, vision, or values of our city or DCPS.  

Whereas, President Wilson led an administration that fired and demoted black workers who had found a road to advancement in the federal civil service, segregation in housing and education has kept many in the black community separate and unequal to this day; and

Whereas, to be sure, standards differed in Wilson’s time, but Wilson was racist even by the standards of his time, for example re-segregating parts of the federal government that had been integrated during Reconstruction. Other examples of Wilson’s racism include the following:

W.E.B. Dubois wrote to Wilson about one Black clerk in the federal government whose job did not permit segregation who was therefore placed in a cage at work.[1] ANC 3E has not seen evidence that Wilson took action to free the employee caged during his Administration;

Wilson replied to a group of Black professionals who complained to Wilson about segregation that “[s]egregation is not humiliating, but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

Wilson authored a history book that contained quotes such as these:

The white men of the South were aroused by the mere instinct of self-preservation to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant negroes and conducted in the interest of adventurers.

*  *  *

The Policy of the congressional leaders wrought…a veritable overthrow of civilization in the South.…in their determination to “put the white South under the heel of the black South.”

*  *  *

The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation…..until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the southern country.

Whereas, Wilson’s predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, whose records on race issues were hardly perfect, nonetheless stood well above Wilson on these issues, appointing numerous Black federal officials, for instance.[2]

Whereas, for a number of years, students, teachers and others have been working to change the name of the high school to better reflect the values of the community; and 

Whereas, a group of Wilson teachers wrote in a 2015 petition, “we do a disservice to all students by remaining uncritical and silent on the legacy of Woodrow Wilson.”; and 

Whereas, the DC History and Justice Collective initiated a movement to change the name of Wilson High School to ensure that the name of the school should reflect our city’s values; and 

Whereas, on June 23, the representatives of all 8 wards on the State Board of Education sent a letter to Chancellor Lewis Ferebee asking for fast action on the grassroots demand to change the name of Woodrow Wilson High School; and

Whereas, this summer Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted the creation of the District of Columbia Facilities and Commemorative Expressions Working Group (DC FACES) to evaluate named public spaces in Washington, DC and provide recommended actions, including removing, renaming, and/or contextualizing the building, public space, or monument; and  

Whereas, the Executive Director of the working group noted, “Buildings, statues, and public spaces are symbols that represent people, ideas, and institutions”; and

Whereas, on September 15, 2020, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has called a hearing before the Council’s Committee of the Whole on PR 23-892, “Sense of the Council Woodrow Wilson High School Renaming Protocol Resolution of 2020.”

Now, therefore, in recognition of these considerations, ANC 3E adopts the following resolution:

Resolved, ANC 3E supports the DC Council resolution which supports efforts to reconsider the name of Woodrow Wilson High School andand calls on DCPS to, as was done with the Washington Football Team, immediately remove the offending portions of the name (Woodrow), and use community input to consider whether the name of Wilson High School should be further changed, and if so, what name should be selected

Further, ANC 3E believes as the Wilson High School renaming project has now been ongoing for a number of years, DCPS and the DC Council should move with all due haste to rename Wilson to ensure that no future classes are graduating from a school building named after a racist. 

The resolution passed by a vote of __-__-__ at a properly noticed meeting held on September 17th, 2020, at which a quorum was present, with Commissioners Bender, Hall, McHugh, and Quinn in attendance.



By Jonathan Bender, Chairperson

[1] See W.E.B. Du Bois, “Another Open Letter to Woodrow Wilson,” accessed at

[2] See, eg, Raab Collection, President Theodore Roosevelt Announces His Determintion to Make the First Appointment of a Black Person to a Federal Post in Any State,” (Roosevelt said that the goal of his first appointment should be to secure “the man of one color…the rights that no one would grudge him if he were of another color.”) accessed at

Resolution to Rename Wilson HS – Final

Draft Resolution to Rename Wilson HS