CAMDEN, NJ — Camden City School District (CCSD) Superintendent Katrina McCombs announced Tuesday that Woodrow Wilson High School will soon bear a new name.
The move comes on the heels of Mayor Frank Moran and City Council members removing the Christopher Columbus statue at Farnham Park — saying they plan to reexamine “symbols of racial division and injustice" in the city.
As recent as this past Saturday, impassioned residents took to the mic to say the East Camden high school’s name was among the symbols in the city that paid homage to a racist figure, who oversaw segregation in the country's federal offices.
“I will be leading the charge with the committee made up of the community, students, alumni and administrators, as we explore a new name for Woodrow Wilson High School. This is a process that must be done in a collaborative manner,” McCombs said during the school board meeting.
She thanked in particular community leader Gary Frazier, whom she said among others, “raised this concern about the school being named after an individual who expressed and demonstrated racist values.”
The school first opened on the 3000 block of Federal Street in 1930 as a junior high school.
Alisha Brown, a spokesperson for the district, said Thursday that Woodrow Wilson was the only school the district will look to rename as of now.
“We also took a look at all of the names of our school buildings just to ensure that the individuals whose names are on the banner over which our young people walk...[have] no history or practices of racism tied [to them]."
Eight days after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes killing him, known online as #BlackOutTuesday, the CCSD observed a “Day of Reflection.”
“All teachers and staff will have the day off," the district said in a statement at the time. “Although one day will not address the issues we have in front of us, our hope is that you use this day to self-reflect, self-care, and recharge.”
McCombs reiterated the sentiments Tuesday, saying recent dialogue taking place across the country has been a reminder over the importance of actionable change.