Woodrow Wilson is offensive? No, the complaints about the hearing the name of the 28th president of the United States are not being uttered by conservatives who loathe the liberal leader’s progressive policies, but by a history teacher at a school named in his honor.
“We’d have to be ignorant about history to continue to affiliate ourselves with this man,” Nam reportedly stated in an email he sent to his co-workers in April. The Portland teacher also registered his angst regarding a tweet about Woodrow Wilson late last month. The Twitter post reportedly cited a Politico story discussing the president “gleefully” screening the film The Birth of a Nation in 1915.
“If there is any real commitment to honor diversity and equity, I would hope that our leaders would step forward and have a dialogue about this,” Nam said.
A Portland school board member in the Woodrow Wilson High School district, Greg Belisle, appears to be seriously considering Nam’s complaints and request of building name change.
“This brought up for me a lot of questions about current names of a lot of our current buildings, which may not feel very comfortable to large portions of our community.”
Some have stated that due to a lack of attention to American history in public schools, it is unlikely that many of the students known much about the 28th president of the United States. AlterNet, an “activist-progressive” news outlet, deemed Wilson “America’s most racist modern president.”
“The whole temper and tradition of the place are such that no Negro has ever applied for admission, and it seems unlikely that the question will ever assume practical form,” Wilson said referencing the a question about the likelihood of a black person attending Princeton University in 1913.
A PBS documentary detailed Wilson’s actions stated that he advocated for Jim Crow laws, stopped black Americans from serving in World War 1, and signed into law a bill which made interracial marriage illegal. Federal officers were reportedly ordered to be segregated by Wilson.
“The purpose of these measures was to reduce the friction. It is as far as possible from being a movement against the Negroes. I sincerely believe it to be in their interest,” PBS quotes Wilson as saying.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]