Race, inequity central to debate over renaming schools in Washington
TACOMA – Conversations about race and inequity continue swirling across our country and also right here in Puget Sound. Those conversations are also now focused on the names of a pair of public school buildings in the Tacoma School District.
One of the schools in Tacoma, Woodrow Wilson High School, is named after the former U.S. president.
Amid reflections sweeping America, there is a push to rename the school as Wilson’s past is steeped in inequity.
“I just didn’t have think too hard about it because there is a lot coming at you when you’re a teenager,” said Lisa Keating, a former Wilson graduate.
Not only is Keating a graduate, but her child now attends the same school.
But by the time students are finally allowed to return to class, the name on the outside of the high school might be different.
“We get to help redefine who deserves to be celebrated,” said Keating.
“I didn’t want to stand for anything that has to do with racism,” said fellow graduate Xavier Cooper.
The same Cooper who is also a former WSU Cougar and an NFL defensive end. Cooper is also an alum of Woodrow Wilson High School.
Even though Wilson once won the Nobel Peace Prize, he was also considered by many as a segregationist.
Similar efforts to remove Wilson’s name from houses of education have happened as early as June 2020.
When Cooper asked his former high school principal to remove one of his old football jerseys currently hanging in the hallways, instead of erasing his connection to the school, the conversation shifted to possibly changing the school’s name.
“America is a great place,” said Cooper. “We need to fix what we’ve got going inside of America before we continue on our journey.”