A years-long push to rename Woodrow Wilson High School could be over by the end of this year, according to a report in The Wilson Beacon.
The November 14th article is a thorough rundown of the renaming process, and the timing and people involved.
The renaming is now at a public feedback stage. From 2,000 responses to an October survey, DCPS and a group of Wilson students, parents, and administrators whittled the list down to seven names (below). The Beacon reports the top finalists will be studied by another committee, which will include the high school’s principal as well as parent and teacher representatives. The final decision, however, will be made by Mayor Muriel Bowser and DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee.
Here is the public input form. The deadline to respond is December 11th. And here’s more information on the names under consideration:
- August Wilson (1945 – 2005) – Mr. Wilson was a playwright who chronicled the African American experience in the 20th century through his plays. Among the numerous honors and awards that he received for his work are the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play for “Fences”, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Piano Lesson”.
- Edna B. Jackson (1911 – 2004) – Ms. Jackson was a DC native and educator. Possibly known best for being the first black teacher at Wilson HS, she also taught at Cardozo HS and volunteered at River Terrace Community School upon her retirement.
- Hilda Mason (1916 – 2007) – As a member of the DC Statehood Party, Ms. Mason was an advocate for DC statehood and served as an at-large member of the DC Council for 22 years. She was also an educator who held roles in the District as a teacher and assistant principal.
- Marion Barry (1936 – 2014) – Mr. Barry served two stints totaling 16 years as the Mayor of the District of Columbia, and two stints as the Ward 8 Representative on the DC Council totaling 12 years. Prior to his political career in the District, he was involved in the civil rights movement, serving as the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
- Northwest – This is the quadrant of the city where the school sits. DCPS has other schools named for areas of the city, for example Brightwood EC, Capitol Hill Montessori EC, and Eastern HS. A number of individuals submitting nominations expressed that in naming the school for a location as opposed to an individual, we would be more likely to avoid controversy in the future as an individual’s legacy could come into question.
- Vincent E. Reed (1928 – 2017) – Dr. Reed’s career in education saw him hold a number of teaching and administrative roles. These include being the first black Principal of Wilson High School, Superintendent of DC Public Schools, and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the US Department of Education. He also served as the Washington Post’s vice president for communications.
- William Syphax (1825 – 1891) – Mr. Syphax served as the first President of the Board of Trustees of Colored Schools of Washington and Georgetown. He was involved in the creation of the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth which became Dunbar HS, as well as the Lincoln, Stevens, and Sumner Schools that were the first African American schools considered equally designed to those built for white students. He was also active in movements for racial and civic advancement and served as one of the founders of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon for twenty years.
The Beacon staff, in a recent editorial, endorsed Edna B. Jackson, the former Wilson High teacher.
“As a Black woman, Jackson’s intersectional identity is the antithesis of President Wilson’s,” they wrote. “Her legacy is uniquely intertwined with our school’s past endeavors for equality. Honoring Jackson is key to distancing ourselves from the racism of President Wilson and doing our community justice.”