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‘It is what it is': Woodrow Wilson House won’t change its name

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 9:09 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - President Woodrow Wilson’s name has been removed from two buildings at Princeton University, but no changes are planned for his childhood home in Augusta.

At Princeton, school trustees say Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake.

Wilson’s boyhood home, 419 Seventh St. in downtown Augusta, won’t be affected.

When News 12 asked the museum about the name issue, Erick Montgomery, executive director of Historic Augusta Inc., gave us this statement:

“Our interpretation of Wilson focuses on his boyhood during the 1860s, including his family’s involvement in the Civil War and Reconstruction. Our Wilson exhibit in the Lamar House openly addresses later issues in which he was involved, including race, women’s rights, and other social issues.

“We have no connection with Princeton University, and only know what we have read in the press.

“We have no plans to ‘modify in some way the name of the Woodrow Wilson House.' It is what it is, and part of that is an outstanding historic site that helps us understand American history.”

There’s a statement on the museum website and at the Lamar House exhibit addressing Wilson’s stances on race, women’s rights and other social issues.

Princeton University last week announced plans to remove Wilson’s name from its public policy school because of his segregationist views, reversing a decision the Ivy League school made four years ago to retain the name.

University President Christopher Eisgruber said in a letter to the school community that the board of trustees had concluded that “Wilson’s racist views and policies make him an inappropriate namesake.”

Eisgruber said the trustees decided in April 2016 on some changes to make the university “more inclusive and more honest about its history” but decided to retain Wilson’s name. However, trustees revisited the issue in light of the recent killings of George Floyd and others.

Wilson, governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913 and then the 28th U.S. president from 1913 to 1921, supported segregation and imposed it on several federal agencies not racially divided up to that point. He also barred Black students from Princeton while serving as university president and spoke approvingly of the Ku Klux Klan.

Earlier this month, Monmouth University of New Jersey removed Wilson’s name from one of its most prominent buildings, citing efforts to increase diversity and inclusiveness. The superintendent of the Camden school district also announced plans to rename Woodrow Wilson High School, one of the district’s two high schools.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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