DCPS

DC's Woodrow Wilson High May Be Renamed for Playwright August Wilson

For years, D.C. residents have called for the school’s name to be changed because of Woodrow Wilson’s “legacy of segregationist policies,” as Mayor Muriel Bowser described them

august wilson and wilson high
NBC Washington; Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

D.C.’s Wilson High would still be Wilson High under a new proposal, but named in honor of Black playwright August Wilson instead of former president Woodrow Wilson. 

August Wilson High School is the new proposed name for Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest D.C., D.C. Public Schools announced Tuesday. 

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author was renowned for chronicling 20th century African American life in plays including “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Fences” and “Jitney.” 

Renaming Wilson High for August Wilson would honor D.C. values, schools chancellor Lewis Ferebee said.

“At DCPS, where a majority of our school leaders and students, and nearly half of our teachers identify as Black, we are committed to fulfilling the efforts of social activism and ensuring that the names we call our schools reflect our values and commitment to diversity,” he said in a statement. 

For years, D.C. residents have called for the school’s name to be changed because of Woodrow Wilson’s “legacy of segregationist policies,” as Mayor Muriel Bowser described them last year

“We know the legacy of President Wilson. I think it has been appropriately disavowed,” the mayor said in June.

The school district surveyed more than 6,000 members of the public and received more than 2,000 name suggestions. August Wilson High School emerged as the preferred name, officials said. 

The name change needs to be approved by the D.C. Council and would go into effect this fall.

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