(WEEK)- Should Woodrow Wilson Primary School in Peoria change its name? That was at the heart of a debate at an open meeting hosted by the Peoria Public School Board Tuesday evening.
When it comes to President Wilson, some historians point to his policies and political appointments of segregationists as examples of racism. And that’s prompted some calls to rename the Peoria school, especially in the wake of Confederate statues being challenged and taken down across the country.
“Actually the suggestion came from Linda Watson, a teacher in District 150, and the schools to be named after some local African American folks who’d made an impact here in Peoria,” explained building committee co-chair Daniel Walther.
Among some of the names being considered, Dr. Maude Sanders, one of Peoria’s first female doctors; Romeo B. Garrett, Bradley’s first African American professor; and John Gwynn, longtime President of the state and local chapters of the NAACP.
But, the crowd at Tuesday’s meeting was mixed on whether a change at Woodrow Wilson Primary is really necessary.
“Let’s not sugarcoat this, Woodrow Wilson was a racist,” stated one woman.
“He led us through WWI, he was behind the Treaty of Versailles, he helped form The League of Nations,” defended another man.
Another man cited the costs of changing the name at a school that is already struggling financially. Also in attendance, the mother and granddaughter of one of the names being considered, Dr. Sanders, who shared her many accomplishments.
If you missed this meeting the school board is offering another chance to offer input February 22nd.