NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – About 25 people gathered today to call for the Board of Education to take Woodrow Wilson’s name off the school that’s home for about 450 K-8 students.
They stood about 50 yards from the school’s entrance on Tunison Road and unfurled a banner emblazoned with the message, “Remove Woodrow Wilson’s Name From New Brunswick Public School Now.”
Wilson, who served as the president of Princeton University and the governor of New Jersey before being elected as the 28th president of the United States, was derided Tuesday as a separatist and a racist who blocked Blacks from attending Princeton, segregated national institutions such as the United States Postal Service and flaunted his approval of the Ku Klux Klan by hosting a viewing party in the White House for D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation”
The protest was organized by community activist/advocate Tormel Pittman, who said that it would send a better message to 450 or so children who attend Wilson school if it were named after someone such as late Rutgers historian Ivan Van Sertima.
“By having the school named for a segregationist defeats the whole purpose of a school,” he said. “We’re trying to give these kids a fighting chance and change the narrative of the culture.
Last week, the Camden school district has decided to removed Wilson’s name from its high school and Monmouth University announced it would take his name off one of its main lecture halls.
One grandmother of two children who go to Wilson School in New Brunswick was asked Tuesday if there was a middle ground that would allow for both the recognition of Wilson’s service to the country but also recall his racist past.
“I would say no because this whole country was built on slavery and pain,” said Cuqui Rivera. “So, I would say no. And the middle ground for me is that if you really want to do something about this as we are trying, you must check your own soul because it’s in there. Our past is not removed from us, it’s in us.
“So, what do we bring to this, what do we bring to this conversation or not? You must check your own soul because even in our own families, this guy has one way of thinking, I got one way of thinking, he’s got one way of thinking. We really have go inside first and then we come out in uniform to make it better and fix this mess.”