DC Public Schools’ Chancellor Lewis Ferebee announced a proposal to rename Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest Washington after Black playwright August Wilson.
The announcement came on Tuesday, after District residents complained for years about the school’s name as it honors Woodrow Wilson, who served as the country’s 28th president — between 1913 and 1921 — and is known for his racist remarks and segregationist policies.
With the name change, the school would be called “August Wilson High School,” in honor of August Wilson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with two of his plays and the Tony Award for Best Play with two of his works.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1945, Wilson examined the African American experience in the 20th century through his plays, including the 10-play series The Pittsburgh Cycle. He died in 2005 at the age of 60 in Seattle, Washington.
“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,” Ferebee said about the proposal.
DCPS proposed the new name after surveying more than 6,000 residents, who suggested around 2,000 different names, with “August Wilson High School” getting the most votes.
In June 2020, Mayor Muriel Bowser also expressed her support for the removal of Woodrow Wilson from the high school’s name, saying the legacy of the former president “has been appropriately disavowed.”
The name change needs to get approval from the DC Council.