For many years, former President Woodrow Wilson has been venerated by Princeton University, where different buildings on the campus have been named after him. However, now the University is scrubbing his name and likeness after concerns were raised about his racist views and policies. While he is often painted as a hero in the history books, Wilson is actually a very controversial figure.
Wilson is the president who made the decision to enter the first world war, at a time when the country was not so enthusiastic to enter overseas wars. Wilson is also the president who allowed the establishment of the Federal Reserve, the central bank that many Americans believe has a large influence on the government. Recently though, the biggest controversy surrounding this former president is his involvement in segregation and his apparent support for other racist policies.
In response to the growing controversy, the Princeton University board has voted to remove the name of the former president from the university’s prestigious School of Public and International Affairs.
Princeton University announced an hour ago that it is stripping Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and residential college. Here’s a Wilson quotation that appeared in “Birth of a Nation,” which President Wilson had screened at White House: pic.twitter.com/fHtvhtgOic
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) June 27, 2020
In a statement on Friday from the university’s board of trustees, which was presented by Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber, it was noted that two buildings would see a name change over Wilson’s tarnished legacy.
“On my recommendation, the board voted to change the names of both the School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College. As you will see from the board’s statement, the trustees concluded that Woodrow Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms,” Eisgruber wrote, according to NBC News.
Eisgruber also mentioned that the board had previously considered removing Wilson’s name in 2016 after a group of student activists occupied the university president’s office, but a review committee later chose to keep the name.
What was once known as Wilson College will now be called First College, while the public affairs school will be known as The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
Wilson spent his early years in the American South during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Wilson was actually the first Southerner to be elected president after the Civil War.
Wilson suffered a severe stroke in October 1919 and was incapacitated for the remainder of his presidency. He retired from public office in 1921 and died in 1924.
This is just one of the latest examples of where the previous generation’s heroes are being questioned by younger people. Statues of other former presidents have also been targetted by protesters in recent weeks, as it is being learned that many of them owned slaves and enthusiastically participated in the genocide of the Native American people. Statues of Andrew Jackson and other presidents have been targetted for this reason. Deceased celebrities have also become targets for cancellation as well. Earlier this week, it was reported that the late actor John Wayne is having his name stripped from the Orange County airport over a 1971 interview where he said that he supports White supremacy, among other controversial statements.