Woodrow Wilson’s racism ‘did some harm,’ great-grandson says

A Student group has called to remove Woodrow Wilson's name from campus buildings.

The Black Justice League, in an open letter released this week, demanded the university remove Wilson’s name from campus buildings and “take responsibility for its history by formally recognizing Woodrow Wilson’s racist.” But Woodrow Wilson’s great-grandson says that this act would not heal current racial tensions.

Wilson was a “product of his time and there was racism as much in the North as the South.” Born in Virginia and raised in the South, Wilson was the governor of New Jersey when elected president in 1912.

He brought with him an administration loaded with white supremacists who segregated offices and removed black men from political appointments. Wilson hosted a special White House screening of “The Birth of a Nation,” a film that glorified the Ku Klux Klan and denigrated blacks.

U.S. college campuses have been roiled this year as minority students demand changes to address what they see as a range of injustices at the schools.

Assani York, 20, a student at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, said the goal is a “re-veneration” of Wilson on campus that allows Princeton to live up it its claim that it is a multi-ethnic, inclusive school.

Backing that appeal, the New York Times editorial board last week said Wilson’s racist policies “are still felt in the country today” and therefore it is “imperative” that the school’s board of trustees “not be bound by the forces of the status quo.”

The newspaper called him “a racist who espoused hateful views and rolled back the tides of racial equality” but added “his abhorrent view and acts do not erase his significant contributions.”

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