Fargo Human Relations Commission recommends Woodrow Wilson High School name change
FARGO, N.D. — As institutions across the nation look to do their parts in confronting systemic racism, the name of a Fargo school has come under scrutiny.
“I am here to talk about Woodrow Wilson, the ugly racist,” said Jim Shaw of Fargo.
Shaw, former KVRR news director and current Forum columnist, is an advocate of changing the name of Woodrow Wilson High School.
The school has stood in Fargo for more than a century, yet some say the ugly history behind the name of the 28th president has been overlooked.
Shaw said, “When it comes to African Americans, Wilson’s policies took away their rights, their hopes, their jobs, their dignity, and often, their lives.”
Among other things, Wilson once called racial segregation “a benefit” and said slaves “were happy and well-cared for.”
Wilson’s racist history is why Shaw took to the Fargo Human Relations Commission.
“I am asking you to go on record as calling for the removal of the name of Woodrow Wilson from one of Fargo’s public high schools,” he said.
His request was approved unanimously by the Commission.
“I went to school at Woodrow Wilson,” said Commissioner Adam Martin. “I got my GED there. I’m a little ashamed.”
“We are not here to change the history, but we are trying to erase the negative part of history so we can start reconciliation and move forward as one body. The one community. And I think I’m okay for it,” said Commissioner Matuor Alier, who made the motion to approve the request.
Their recommendation will go to the Fargo School Board.
Members of OneFargo and Black Lives Matter Fargo-Moorhead echoed Shaw’s call for action.
“Right now, it is a lot of changing happening in our community, but we’re hoping that this just adds a light to what has been going on for hundreds of years,” said Faith Dixon with Black Lives Matter Fargo-Moorhead.
Fargo School Board President Rebecca Knutson says a discussion of the policy behind naming schools will take place at a committee meeting next Thursday.
In a statement released Saturday, Princeton University said it will remove Wilson’s name from its school of public policy and a residential college.