News & Politics

Wilson High School’s Potential New Names Include Marion Barry, August Wilson, “Northwest”

You can now weigh in on the seven monikers under consideration.

There are now seven names under consideration for the Northwest DC high school that is currently named for Woodrow Wilson, according to a new website created to solicit feedback.

The school has been expected to select a new name for some time due to growing discomfort over the former president’s history of racism. An email announcing the seven potential names was recently sent to members of the Wilson community by the DCPS Office of Communications and Engagement. It’s unclear whether one of these options will definitely be selected, but a post on Wilson’s official website says that after people have had a chance to react to the nominations, “Chancellor Ferebee and Mayor Bowser will then review the feedback and decide on a final school name to propose to the DC Council.”

The site explains how the options were generated: “A nomination form released in October to suggest new school names received over 2,000 responses. From that list, a group of DCPS and school stakeholders narrowed the names down to the following seven finalists for public input.”

Here are the seven names listed on the site:

  • August Wilson: The renowned African American playwright has been mentioned frequently as a candidate, partly because his last name would make replacing team uniforms and other signage unnecessary.
  • Edna B. Jackson: She was the first Black teacher at Wilson and also taught at Cardozo.
  • Hilda Mason: A member of the DC Council for 22 years, she was an early proponent of DC statehood.
  • Marion Barry: DC’s “mayor for life” would be a controversial pick.
  • Northwest: Sorry, not Kim and Kanye’s daughter. The suggestion here is to nix the whole idea of naming the school after a person and instead use the quadrant of the city in which the school sits. But Northwest High School might seem odd given that there are other public high schools in Northwest DC.
  • Vincent E. Reed: Wilson’s first Black principal, he later served as superintendent of the whole DC public school system.
  • William Syphax: A 19th century educator who was the first president of the board of trustees of Colored Schools of Washington and Georgetown.

Politics and Culture Editor

Rob Brunner grew up in DC and moved back in 2017 to join Washingtonian. Previously, he was an editor and writer at Fast Company and other publications. He lives with his family in Chevy Chase DC.