Woodrow Wilson HS student paper endorses ‘Black pioneer’ teacher for rename

Staff at Woodrow Wilson High School’s student-run newspaper are making it clear that they want to see a former Black teacher’s name going up outside the school building in Northwest D.C.

Students involved with The Beacon posted an article backing Edna B. Jackson, who is one of seven finalists that D.C. Public Schools narrowed down for the school’s renaming.

“We strongly urge the Mayor and Chancellor to choose Edna B. Jackson as our future namesake,” reads the endorsement article.

Following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, Jackson was one of the first Black teachers at what once was an all-white school in what was then known as Reno City.

“Beyond her identity, Jackson’s impact on our community cannot be quantified—her influence as a Black pioneer in a majority-white population, as a teacher to countless students, and as a role model to teens, parents, and colleagues, demands recognition,” the paper wrote.

The school remains in the Tenleytown neighborhood across from Fort Reno Park.

“Honoring Jackson is key to distancing ourselves from the racism of President Wilson and doing our community justice,” Beacon staffers wrote. “Wilson [our school] must set a clear precedent on how to address the lack of diversity in our titles. Choosing a Black woman is the best way to do that.”

Over the summer, Mayor Muriel Bowser commissioned a panel that reviewed more than 20 schools that should be renamed based on the monikers’ racist legacies.

President Woodrow Wilson, who was the 28th U.S. president, controversially supported the re-segregation of government workers in the District.

D.C. Public Schools and community leaders chose seven finalists for Woodrow Wilson’s renaming. Along with Jackson, they include

  • Northwest
  • former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry
  • former Council member Hilda Mason
  • former Superintendent Vincent E. Reed
  • William Syphax, who was deeply involved in D.C. education in the 1860s-1870s, and
  • playwright August Wilson.

The public has until Friday, Dec. 11 to vote on a finalist.

Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee and Bowser will then select a winner to be proposed to the D.C. Council.

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